The NHL's GM meetings take place in Toronto this week, starting Wednesday, and there could be some movement on the trade front by the weekend as a result.

As Elliotte Friedman, among others, reported yesterday, prices for trade pieces are extremely high due to over 80% of the league still currently in contention for a playoff spot. As bad as the Washington Capitals have played -currently sitting in 13th place in the East- they are only six points out from the 8th seed.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the last place Colorado Avalanche are also six points out of a playoff spot. To make matters worse for contending teams looking for a trade partner, the Columbus Blue Jackets have earned at least one point in ten straight games, giving optimism to any team currently fighting to get out of the cellar.

Prices have been inflated for deadline pieces, as a result. Jarome Iginla's rumored price is a forward, prospect and draft pick; a high bargain for a 35 year old upcoming free agent. In turn, some of the lesser skilled players such as Ryan Clowe and Chris Stewart have seen their stock rise as well.

Maybe when everyone meets face to face the price will drop a little.

If it does, Ray Shero must pounce at the chance to improve his team. Last season, we heard about how Shero liked the team the Penguins had and made no moves towards improving the roster. In fact, most teams held out from making a deal at the deadline (when Paul Gaustad is one of the bigger names to be dealt, you know it's a slow period).

The Penguins added nothing and were swept aside by the Philadelphia Flyers.

This season, some of the pieces are there but there's a major question as to whether or not they're worth the price. That could have a strong influence on Shero's ability to execute a deal.

What shouldn't have any influence is the current state of the team.

The Penguins have won nine straight games, giving up five total goals in their last five games. Sidney Crosby is rolling, the defense is playing extremely tight, and some of the depth players have scored big goals. But this all happened last year in March, too.

Last season, the Penguins rattled off an eleven game winning streak and won their first seven games in the month of March, allowing only eleven goals in that span. They won without Sidney Crosby, who returned from his concussion/neck injuries the following week, and relied heavily on Evgeni Malkin. This all happened after Ray Shero passed on acquiring someone at the deadline and, at the time, looked like a genius.

One month later, the Penguins were packing, going for the golf clubs.

The success of this team in its current state cannot mask some of the issues the playoffs will expose. Is a player like Jarome Iginla the answer? Maybe; maybe not. But the Penguins are in need of some help at defense and they definitely need to pursue at least two players to improve the bottom six forwards. Come May, Tanner Glass should not be on the ice, neither should Tyler Kennedy nor Matt Cooke unless they play significantly better for the rest of the season.

Changes were vowed after last season's embarrassing defeat in the playoffs. Eleven months later, the GM stayed, the coaches stayed and the only big move was Jordan Staal for Brandon Sutter.

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Steelers

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