Ray Shero poked a big hole in the theory that the Penguins should let injured star center Sidney Crosby ride out the regular season on long-term injured reserve after he chases down some scoring punch before today's 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline.
"Right now there's no deal out there for me that makes any sense," the Penguins general manager said Sunday during the first intermission of his club's 4-2 win against Columbus at Consol Energy Center.
"People speculate that we will add salary, but if there's nothing there then it doesn't make any sense for me whether it's for this year or moving forward."
Shero said he had nothing in the works, Crosby-related or otherwise, as of early Sunday afternoon.
Crosby is skating but doesn't have clearance for contact as he recovers from concussion symptoms and/or a neck injury that have sidelined him since Dec. 6 and have limited him to eight games since early January 2011.
If the Penguins knew he would be out the rest of the regular season, they could use some or all of his $8.7 million salary cap hit to acquire a replacement player or two, perhaps pending free agents who could be "rental players." The salary cap isn't in effect in the playoffs.
Even if an attractive trade surfaces before 3 p.m., Shero didn't sound as if he wants to speculate that Crosby is done for the regular season.
"I hope he will be back," Shero said. "There's no guarantee of that, but I'm hopeful that will happen."
Also not on Shero's shopping list is a backup goaltender. Brent Johnson, who has struggled this season, is hurt. Brad Thiessen, making his NHL debut, filled in capably Sunday and picked up the win.
Shero said those two give the Penguins enough options.
"[Thiessen] deserves an opportunity at some point, and [Johnson], hopefully, will be back shortly. He's a veteran guy who has won games in the past," he said.
The NHL draft will be held here in June, but Shero is not looking to stockpile picks to make in front of the home crowd.
"That really doesn't factor into it. My focus is our team this year," he said, but added that he's not offering the Penguins' first-round pick around.
"I'd like to have our first pick, that's for sure," he said.
The Penguins' opponent, Columbus, has been shopping star winger Rick Nash. Besides a possible move with him, Shero doesn't see a lot of blockbuster trades happening this year. With so many teams vying for a playoff spot or looking to improve their playoff seeding, prices set by the few teams that are definitively "sellers" have been high.
"There's a lot of teams that have good players, and they really don't want to trade them," Shero said. "They're holding onto them. It's kind of hard to blame them.
"I think there will be a number of role players that will change hands and maybe the odd bigger deal that happens. Right now it's down to the end, and there's not a lot of players available maybe like there were in the past. Even some of the sellers right now, what happens [in Sunday night games] will help make a decision."
Shero has made a move or two at or leading up to the trade deadline every year since his first season with the Penguins in 2006-07.
If that doesn't happen this time, Shero won't be disappointed. He noted that the Penguins are relatively healthy compared with the string of injuries that has plagued them most of this season and last. In addition to Crosby, winger Tyler Kennedy (high ankle sprain) is skating, and winger Arron Asham missed Sunday's game because of an undisclosed injury he apparently got Saturday.
"I do like our team," Shero said. "I'm saying that today. I said it six weeks ago when we were going through a losing streak.
"We'll see what the [hours until the deadline] brings. Right now, I'm not close to anything, as a number of teams aren't, it seems to be. If not, you can't manufacture stuff."
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Shelly Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org , 412-263-1721 or Twitter @pgshelly.