Since replacing Craig Patrick as general manager in 2006, Ray Shero has not been one to let the NHL's trade deadline slip by unnoticed.
Here's a sampling of his moves on and around the deadline:
2007: Brought in Gary Roberts and Georges Laraque for toughness.
2008: Acquired Marian Hossa as a game-breaking winger, Pascal Dupuis as a reliable two-way forward and Hal Gill as a shutdown defenseman.
2009: Added Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin to provide goal-scoring from the wings and claimed versatile blue-collar forward Craig Adams on waivers.
2010: Picked up Jordan Leopold to upgrade his defense and Alexei Ponikarovsky to provide some goals from the wing. (No one said all of Shero's moves have worked out well.)
2011: Traded for James Neal to score goals, Matt Niskanen for defensive depth and Alex Kovalev in a desperate, ultimately futile bid to rekindle the magic he once had.
That said, Shero might be hard-pressed to make a significant move before the Feb. 27 deadline this time.
Not because there won't be guys available, but, because if the Penguins are healthy at that point (or have reason to believe they will be when the playoffs start), there shouldn't be any gaping holes to plug.
Shero's team, on paper, looks to be a solid group. Deep and talented.
That wouldn't preclude Shero from shopping around for a player or two who could contribute, though, and, as usual, teams doomed to sit out the playoffs project as the most likely sellers.
Heading into this weekend, at least six teams -- Anaheim, Carolina, Columbus, Edmonton, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay -- appear to be candidates to fill that role.
While none has been formally eliminated from playoff contention just yet, none has announced plans to print tickets for the coming postseason, either.
The most popular commodities figure to be, as usual, "rental" players scheduled to qualify for unrestricted free agency during the offseason. Those guys tend to be experienced and often are highly motivated.
Some of the forwards, with their current team and salary-cap hit in parentheses, from the six clubs above who fall into that category include:
Jason Blake (Anaheim, $4 million): A longtime Penguins-killer who plays a high-energy style, he missed 35 games after suffering a serious cut on his wrist. If he can establish that there are no lingering effects from his injury, some club might take a chance on him if the asking price is low enough.
Josh Green (Edmonton, $575,000): An often-injured journeyman who made it through waivers unclaimed earlier this season, which doesn't say much for the chances of him attracting interest on the trade market.
Niklas Hagman ($1.5 million): Inconsistent and ordinary.
Adam Hall (Tampa Bay, $600,000): Solid role player who's effective along the boards and kills penalties well.
Ales Hemsky (Edmonton, $4.1 million): Good skater who is creative and probably has the most potential to be a difference-maker of any of the guys who project as rentals at this point.
Kristian Huselius (Columbus, $4.75 million): Injuries have limited him to two appearances this season. Has some undeniable talent but is too fragile and unreliable to attract much interest, especially with his cap hit.
Saku Koivu (Anaheim, $2.5 million): At 37, he's showing the effects of playing so hard for so many years. Intangibles remain excellent, though, even if his game is slipping.
Dominic Moore (Tampa Bay, $1.1 million): Proved against the Penguins last spring that he can be effective at both ends of the rink. Has a penchant for getting under the skin of opponents and for scoring in critical situations.
Frans Nielsen (Islanders, $525,000): Solid special-teams contributor who is a skilled, though smallish, playmaker.
Samuel Pahlsson (Anaheim, $2.65 million): A good faceoff man and defensive center who could help a team seeking such a player.
Jay Pandolfo (Islanders, $1.4 million): Hard-working defensive winger and penalty-killer whose career seems to be just about over.
P.A. Parenteau (Islanders, $1.25 million): If New York makes him available, there should be no shortage of offers.
George Parros (Anaheim, $875,000): One of the game's most-respected enforcers. Trouble is, there isn't much need for a fighter during the playoffs.
Vaclav Prospal (Columbus, $2.5 million): Versatile but inconsistent.
Brian Rolston (Islanders, $5.06 million): His age (38) is showing, and the decline in his play coupled with his inflated salary make it unlikely any team will move aggressively to acquire him.
Tuomo Ruutu (Carolina, $3.8 million): He carries the family gene for angering opponents but has more offensive talent than older brother Jarkko.
Teemu Selanne (Anaheim, $4 million): Just might have one more good playoff run in him before calling it a career. If Selanne, 41, decides he wants to be traded so he can contend for another Cup, more than a few teams might be intrigued.
Ryan Smyth (Edmonton, $6.25 million): Still works hard and can contribute offensively but at age 35 isn't the force he used to be.
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @molinaripg. First Published January 22, 2012 5:00 AM