Why Ray Shero needs to be active this trade deadline
The Penguins currently sit at 15-8-0, that is good for First in the Division and Second in the Conference. Despite some lack luster efforts in games against Florida and Carolina the Penguins are a legit contender (Are the Penguins a Legit Contender?). Even being as strong as they are on their best nights, it is still imperative that Ray Shero (The Penguins General Manager) make some major moves this year.
Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 The Penguins have only won one play off series which was in 2009-2010. Some may fault injuries due to the lack of success in the Playoffs, but having a team with Malkin, Crosby, Fleury, Letang and James Neal there is no reason why a long run is not possible.
The time to win is now, and with core player contracts due to expire within the next few seasons, Ray Shero needs to take into consideration that he may need to plan for the future. Especially if players like Malkin, Letang and Orpik decide to pack it up and leave town.
Sidney Crosby is signed for 12 more seasons and is one of two players signed past the 2015-2016 season. James Neal being the other. That means that Shero has some work to do to keep this core together, a core that includes two time scoring champion Evgeni Malkin, Norris trophy candidate Kris Letang and starting goalie Marc Andre Fleury.
Letang and Malkin have only one season left on their contract after this season. Ray has stated that his main focus will be to re-sign both players. Both have expressed interest in staying in Pittsburgh, but does that mean they are looking at long term or short?
Letang if not re-signed prior to his contract expiring will be the most sought after defenseman and could look at making a very hefty raise.
Malkin will also be highly sought after and could expect to have a team built around him anywhere he would go.
So what can Shero do to help entice these players to stay, or what can he do to prepare if either of them decide to leave?
It is believed that management has been searching for a top defender to play along Letang as well as a top forward to play along Crosby. That was most apparent during the off season as Shero and the Penguins made a strong effort in acquiring both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.
So far this season we have heard names such as Jarome Iginla, Jack Johnson, Devin Setoguchi, Cal Clutterbuck, Nikolai Kulimen and Sergei Gonchar. All these players would have something they could bring to this talented Penguins team, but unfortunately not all of them are the type of players they need.
I will not sit here and go into what the Penguins need and who will help not only now but in the long run. What I will say is Shero is very aware of the situation he is in. Losing Staal last summer was tough not only for the fans but the team as well. That is not a knock on Sutter as he is performing very well, but Staal was part of the core group that many, including Shero believed would be in Pittsburgh for a long time.
He now understands that anything can happen and that having a back up plan is important. It is still unknown what Malkin and company will do as their contracts expire. Some may leave, some may stay. Either way Shero can not sit and wait to see what happens.
As important as it is to make moves to win now, it is equally if not more important to make moves for the future especially to secure the Penguins spot among the top teams in the NHL.
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