Penguins, GM Ray Shero make another deal

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Ray Shero looked at his Penguins club going into the weekend and did not see major areas of need. Or glaring weaknesses. Or even any losses in recent memory.

And he thought something along these lines: What a perfect time to get a jump on the NHL trade deadline and craft some moves to try to make the team even better.

"We have a nice, good team, and you try to do the best you can to strengthen it and let them play," the Penguins general manager said Monday after making a trade for the second day in a row.

Shero on Monday acquired hulking defenseman Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round draft pick in 2013 and a third-round pick in 2014. The latter switches to a second-rounder if the Penguins re-sign Murray or advance past the second round of the upcoming playoffs.

That came a day after Shero brought in winger Brenden Morrow and a 2013 third-round pick from the Dallas Stars in a trade for defensive prospect Joe Morrow and a fifth-rounder in 2013.

These moves, acquiring players who are eligible to become unrestricted free agents in July, were about adding grit, leadership and depth for the playoffs, which begin in a little more than a month. And they put Shero a step ahead of the rest of the general managers with the NHL trade deadline arriving April 3.

In this lockout-shortened season with a lot of teams still vying for playoffs spots, Shero said: "The demand is greater than the supply. If you can identify that certain player [you want] and you're willing to pay the price ... "

He did both. Twice.

Scouting report

  • Matchup:

    Montreal Canadiens vs. Penguins, 7:08 p.m. today, Consol Energy Center.

  • TV, Radio:

    Root Sports, WXDX-FM (105.9).

  • Probable goaltenders:

    Carey Price for Canadiens; Marc-Andre Fleury for Penguins.

  • Penguins:

    Have won 12 games in a row, 9 in a row at home. ??? Are last in NHL with 151 takeaways. ??? Paul Martin has 5 goals, 17 points over past 23 games.

  • Canadiens:

    Canadiens: Are 1-1-1 since a 5-game winning streak. ??? Lost to Penguins, 7-6, March 2 in overtime. ??? One of four teams without a short-handed goal.

  • Hidden stat:

    The Penguins are 10-0 with D Mark Eaton in the lineup.

Shero, however, made a point of avoiding any implication that he is lining up his club for a run at the Stanley Cup.

"You try to put yourself in the best position possible," said Shero, whose team has won 12 games in a row and is leading the Eastern Conference with 50 points in 33 games going into a matchup tonight against the Montreal Canadiens at Consol Energy Center.

Murray, 33, steps in as the Penguins' biggest defenseman at 6 feet 3, 245 pounds. He's not about offense, with 6 goals, 59 points in 451 NHL games. He's all about defense and a physical game. He'll fight at times and patrols the area around the crease.

"This guy is big and strong and tough to play against down low," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He clears the front of the net and makes it tough on good players on the opposition. That's something we have talked about with our team."

Shero was asked to compare Murray with former Penguins player Hal Gill, a 6-7 defenseman who was on the 2009 Stanley Cup team.

"They're penalty-killing guys. They're big bodies," Shero said. "Hal filled a very big role for us, won a Cup here. Doug Murray is a big, strong guy, brings a physical edge -- maybe more of a physical edge and meanness than Hal brought. But Hal did his job well at 6 feet 7."

Murray is expected in Pittsburgh sometime late today but won't play against Montreal. Morrow arrived in town Monday after a mostly sleepless night and travel. Whether he makes his Penguins debut against the Canadiens depends on how he is feeling, Shero said.

Morrow took care of one bit of business right away, procuring his longtime uniform number. That doesn't mean the former Dallas captain is ready to throw his status around on a team that has superstar center Sidney Crosby as its captain.

"I'm going to do what I do, lead the way I lead," Morrow said.

"Sid, this is his team. No question there. I'm not taking anything away there. He's the best player in the world. ... I'm not stepping on any toes"

Morrow convinced Tanner Glass to give up uniform No. 10 -- "It hasn't been good to me," cracked Glass, who has no points in his first season with the Penguins. Glass will get his former number, 15, from Dustin Jeffrey, who will switch to No. 17. Murray will wear No. 3.

Connecting those dots could prove easier than sorting through the Penguins roster of defensemen and where they fit in.

There are nine, including Kris Letang, who is on injured reserve.

To make room for Murray, the Penguins returned forward Trevor Smith to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

If Letang or center Evgeni Malkin come off injured reserve before the April 3 NHL trade deadline, the Penguins will have to make a roster move to accommodate them. After that deadline, though, rosters will have no set limit as long as teams are under the salary cap. That's a rule set in place this lockout-shortened season.

Shero said he sees Murray as an everyday defenseman, but added that which defensemen get in the lineup and what the pairings look like will be up to Bylsma.

Shero didn't tip his hand as to whether he might have other deals in the works -- the Penguins have more than $6 million in salary cap space -- but he indicated that he's not planning on trading any of the defensemen.

"The guys that are here right now are the guys, in my opinion, who are going to be here April 3 when you can expand the rosters," Shero said, adding that if the club has to move some bodies around before April 3, it will be "procedural."

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For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at Shelly Anderson: and Twitter: @pgshelly. First Published March 26, 2013 4:00 AM


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