For two years running now the Penguins’ general manager Ray Shero has been an active participant in the frenzy that occurs every yearjust hours before the NHL’s trading deadline. Last year, Shero acquired Gary Roberts from the Florida Panthers as an experience booster to a young team that was practically locked into the playoffs. Roberts, who may be done for this season, is a solid forward who provides an unwavering body down low on the power play; certainly a decent pick-up. This year Shero has yet again wheeled his way through the trading deadline, except this year he’s made one of the biggest deals in hockey.
Just minutes before the trading deadline, Shero completed a deal with the Atlanta Thrashers that will change the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins that we’ve all grown to love this season. Shero acquired Thrashers forward Marian Hossa (a known Penguin killer) in a five player deal that sent two notable Penguins down south for the remainder of the season. Penguin fans will have to wave goodbye to Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, both of whom were some of the more recognizable Penguin players over the past two seasons. The Penguins also had to give up Angelo Esposito, who was the Penguins’ first round draft selection in the 2007 draft, as well as their first round pick in the 2008 draft in order to get Hossa. The Penguins also picked up Pascal Dupuis in the deal.
As a Penguin fan I’m very happy to see a phenomenal scorer in Marian Hossa coming to town, but I feel very bad about letting go of Armstrong and Christensen. Colby and Erik have really become of part of the Penguins organization and are loved by both fans and players alike. I know that many of the Penguins will be sad to see these two players go, but it’s a part of hockey and all other sports that teams have to deal with. As for my opinion on the trade, I have likes and dislikes aplenty. One thing I like is Marian Hossa (Duh!) who is one of the NHL’s elite players and was certainly the Thrashers’ best player. So far this season he’s scored 26 goals with 30 assists for a total of 56 points in 60 games. I feel pretty confident that he will raise those numbers once he begins playing alongside all the young talent the Penguins have. As for my major dislike, I’ve learned that Hossa is an unrestricted free agent, meaning that he can be acquired by any team after the season is over. Unless the Penguins plan on signing him to a long term deal, Hossa will only be in Pittsburgh for the remainder of this season, which makes the loss of Armstrong and Christensen a heavy one because those two had such promising futures with their young age. Obviously, if the Penguins only plan on having Hossa for the rest of the season, this trade means that they have set their mind solely on winning the Stanley Cup this year. The Penguins are certainly capable of pulling off that feat, but something tells me that they plan on keeping Hossa around for a while. It’s just too bold of a move to make without there being any kind of reward for the long haul.
Along with this blockbuster trade, the Penguins picked-up Hal Gill from the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gill is basically another Georges Laraque, which is a solid investment to make, even though Gill is not a good offensive player. Gill will look to provide yet another threat for opposing hit men whose sole job against the Penguins is to take Crosby out. Now they’ll be sandwiched between 493 pounds of muscle, supposing Gill and Georges play on the same line.