Since Sidney Crosby arrived in Pittsburgh there has been a constant job posting for someone who can play on Crosby's wing. Every trade deadline and free agency has passed without an acquisition of someone that could thrive on a line with the best player in the National Hockey League. With Crosby missing over 50% of the last two NHL seasons, his return to NHL supremacy this season can be attributed in part to the success of the guy skating on his left side. Chris Kunitz's contribution to the Penguins this season has been just as significant as Sidney Crosby's MVP season thus far. The job description for playing with the best player in the NHL is much more complex than just always getting the puck on the stick of Sidney Crosby. Crosby has always been a player that stacks up points in the assists column and having a player that can complete his plays and score from all areas of offensive zone is an incredible asset.
The acquisition of Chris Kunitz in a trade in which Ray Shero sent Ryan Whitney to Anaheim has become one of the General Manager's greatest transactions. In the four seasons since Kunitz arrived in Pittsburgh he has increased his point production each season and is on pace to scoring a career high in goals in a shortened 48-games season. Kunitz currently leads the league in plus/minus with a plus-24 and is within the top five in the league leaders for goals and points in the NHL. Kunitz has assisted on 46% of Crosby's goals and Crosby has also contributed on 14 of Kunitz's 18 goals. Their chemistry has contributed to the Penguin's offensive success on the ice and the line combination of Crosby, Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis has become the top in the league producing 111 points through 31 games.
With the NHL trade deadline less than two weeks away, Ray Shero will be weighing his defensive options rather than pushing to acquire a top six winger. The asking price for big names on the market such as Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames and Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues will likely be greater than what Ray Shero is willing to give up. The play of the top six forwards in Pittsburgh is arguably at the highest caliber than what has been evident in the Sidney Crosby era. Beau Bennett is proving that he is an NHL ready forward and if Evgeni Malkin can get healthy and continue his ongoing chemistry with right winger James Neal, a top six forward is not a priority for the Penguins. If Ray Shero happens to work his magic as he always seems to do around the trade deadline, look for a spot to be filled on Malkin's wing rather than Crosby's. There are 29 other teams in the league that would love to have the chemistry of a first line with Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz. Ray Shero is not about to throw another player into the mix.

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