Ray Shero has truly been a top of the line general manager for the Pittsburgh Penguin over the four years. Every general manager has their ups and downs, but Shero has had few mistakes he couldn’t quickly undo. A couple of his great additions include
-Craig Adams off waivers from Chicago; Miroslav Satan, Petr Sykora, and Matt Cooke in free agency; resigning Sid Crosby; trading for Tangradi, Billy Guerin, and Chris Kunitz; adding Jordan Staal through the draft; trading for Hal Gill, Pascal Dupuis, and Marian Hossa.
Shero has built the roster in an economically feasible manner through a series of free agent signings and trades. Over this off season, the Penguins allowed Sergei Gonchar, Ruslan Fedotenko, Bill Guerin, Alex Ponikarovski, Jordan Leopold, and Mark Eaton to leave. Of those players, Gonchar and Leopold are doing the best elsewhere. Leopoldhas 15 points in Buffalo, and he had a way of playing well when it mattered when he was with the Pens. We just saw Gonchar recently with Ottawa, and he is third on the team in points.
Poni is in the midst of a 4 point season where he has played in only half of the games for the Kings. Eaton is stuck with the hapless Islanders, and Guerin was with the Flyers through training camp until he was tossed before the season began.
The Pens brought in Paul Martin, Zbynek Michalek, Arron Asham, and Mike Comrie. None of the four have had truly great season.
-Martin is on pace for a 40 point year, with 11 assists and one goal through 25 games. Martin is +3 to this point, and hasn’t spent much time in the sin bin (only 4 PIM). Martin is averaging over 20 minutes. He spent quite some time working with the Devils system, so it’s not surprising it took some time for him to adjust, but he has played well for the Pens as of late.
-Mike Comrie - Completely missing in action. He had such a good preseason too. It looked like he was in good shape to take a second or third line scoring role, especially with Staal out, for the start of the season. He has found himself a healthy scratch often this season and an irrelevant player when he is on the ice. He was the last player signed over the off season (a one year deal).
-Zbynek Michalek - still adjusting to the Bylsma system, he has been taking 25+ shifts a night as of late. He is averaging over 20 minutes per game at the blue line, but he also has a -4. He has registered only five points, but that isn’t all that surprising.
-Arron Asham – the 32 year old forward is coming off a solid year with the Flyers. Injured for about 10 games this year, he is coming back into lineup and now has 3 goals and 3 assists. He is on pace for his normal 25 point season. He provides a physical presence on the fourth line (he has 831 PIM in his career). He will only get better as he continues to get healthy and plays more in the Bylsma system.
So it’s been a bit mixed so far. Martin and Michalek have earned plenty of playing time at the blueline and shored up a spot that was thin going into the off season. Between Martin, Orpik, Michalek, Letang, and Alex Goligoski, he blue line production has hardly fallen this year.
As for Comrie and Asham, neither has done much. Chris Connor and Mark Letestu have played fairly well this year, closing the gap on what either can do. Comrie has been healthy all year, but has fallen into the Bylsma dog house. Asham has been injured, but he is coming around.
With Staal returning, there will be a built in midseason acquisition for the Pens. Overall, the offseason acquisitions filled the needed holes, but has been somewhat hit or miss. The talent from old trades has made itself seen – as we have seen Tangradi, Connor, and Letestu have begun to make their mark. Shero’s trades have proven to be good short term and long term, but this free agent class will need a little more time to weed out.
About the Author
Written by Michael Watts
Cleveland based student. A writer for Cleveland based high school news sites. Broadcaster for Cleveland Saint Ignatius High School. Avid Pens, Cavs, Tribe, and Browns fan.