Penguins make two moves for depth as trade deadline passes
March 5, 2014 2:02 PM
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stops a shot in front of Flames' Paul Byron (#32) and Lee Stempniak (#22) in the second period at Consol Energy Center on Saturday afternoon, December 21, 2013. The Penguins acquired Stempniak in a trade today.
Larry MacDougal/Associated Press
The Penguins' Brooks Orpik battles with the Calgary Flames' Lee Stempniak during a game in Pittsburgh in December. The Penguins acquired Stempniak today in a trade.
NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES
By Shelly Anderson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sidney Crosby grabbed a protein shake after the Penguins practiced at SAP Center Wednesday and sat down. From his corner stall in the visitors' locker room, the team captain had a good view of his teammates.
No faces were missing. No bags were being packed.
And while the two new players due to arrive -- versatile forwards Lee Stempniak and Marcel Goc -- did not represent any blockbuster moves by Penguins general manager Ray Shero at the NHL trade deadline, Crosby felt good about the group of players the team will take into the stretch drive.
"We're comfortable with our team," said Crosby, who leads the NHL with 83 points as the Penguins, who lead the Eastern Conference, head into Game 62 tonight against the San Jose Sharks.
"We know that we need to play better as a group. That's up to us. With the guys we have, we're confident. And these guys are going to provide a lot of depth for us."
Shero added Stempniak and Goc without trading away any players from his NHL roster, any first- or second-round draft picks, or any prospects.
The Penguins sent Florida a 2014 fifth-round pick and a 2015 third-round pick for Goc, and they gave up a 2014 third-round pick to Calgary for Stempniak. Both players could join the Penguins in time to play tonight.
"You're trying to do the right thing possible for the team with [the] salary cap," Shero said. "I'm happy we kept our first-round pick this year and first pick in  and traded a few mid-range things that you may be able to get back over the course of the next year or two.
"To add a couple guys to our lineup without taking anybody off our team or trading a real-life prospect is better for us."
The Penguins pursued but didn't land Ryan Kesler, a two-way center who has a 41-goal season on his resume. He remained with Vancouver.
"I don't think there was a deal there to be made," Shero said. "A lot of the focus, media-wise, was on Ryan Kesler. Not only Pittsburgh but around different media markets. He's a real good player.
"But our goal was to increase our forward depth up front and help our forward group. I think we've accomplished that and not touched anybody off our roster."
It's believed that had the Penguins been able to pry Kesler from the Canucks, part of the cost would have been third-line center Brandon Sutter. Such chatter reached Sutter days ago, and he spent an uncomfortable several hours on the Penguins' charter flight here from Nashville, Tenn., as the 3 p.m. Eastern deadline approached.
"It's definitely a relief," Sutter said. "I'm just glad it's done with. It's a tough couple of days when you're not sure what's going to happen or when it's going to happen.
"I'm glad it came and went without anything going on. It's nice to have it done, and I can just worry about playing."
It's possible that Sutter, who has had a revolving door of wingers because of injuries and line shuffling, could get a new winger in Goc (rhymes with "notch"), while Stempniak could get a look-see as Crosby's right winger.
Goc, 30, has played mostly center in a career that includes 72 goals, 105 assists in 550 NHL games, but he is comfortable at either wing.
"I don't have an issue, left, right or center," he said. "I had a few games this season when I was on a line with Scott Gomez. They put him at center and asked if I could play on the wing. I thought it worked well.
"Once the play gets going, you're kind of all over the place anyway."
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma called Goc "a great two-way, responsible player. Good faceoff guy. [Plays on the] penalty-kill.
"Both are going to add depth to our top-nine [forward spots]."
Stempniak, 31, could help fill the void left with Crosby's regular right winger, Pascal Dupuis, out for the season after knee surgery. Rookie Brian Gibbons has been playing in that spot.
"I think that I'm someone that can contribute offensively -- skating, being aggressive on the puck. I feel like I've got a good shot," said Stempniak, who has 146 goals, 184 assists in 616 NHL games.
"[The Penguins] are a team that plays an up-tempo pace and really skates. Those are my strong suits."
Penguins winger Tanner Glass played two seasons at Dartmouth with Stempniak and called him "one of the hardest-working guys that I've ever played with. He works at his game like crazy. He was always one of the last guys off the ice in college and really took care of himself. Very disciplined guy, and very disciplined player.
"He has some offensive instincts. He's strong on the puck, a really good skater. And he's smart.
"I see him fitting in really well."
Stempniak, who counts $2.5 million against the salary cap, and Goc, who has a $1.7 million cap hit, are both eligible to become unrestricted free agents after this season.
Marcel Goc, center ... Age: 30. ... Has 61 goals, 154 points in 488 career games. Had 9 goals, 19 points for Florida this season. ... Was a first-round draft pick of San Jose in 2001. ... Penguins are his fourth team.
Lee Stempniak, right winger ... Age: 31. ... Has 138 goals, 307 points in 564 career games. Had 9 goals, 32 points for Calgary this season. ... Was a fifth-round draft pick of St. Louis in 2003. ... Penguins are his fifth team.
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