On the Penguins: It's that time of the year in the NHL
Penguins general manager Ray Shero's first "deadline" move was bringing in veteran defenseman Mark Eaton.
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The National Hockey League trade deadline arrives in exactly one month.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero believes that, by the time the cutoff for making deals arrives at 3 p.m., a lot of players will have new employers.
"I think there will be a good number of trades," he said. "Every year, there's activity, because every team needs something.
"Or wants to do something."
Shero said a few days ago that there is "nothing imminent" for the Penguins and -- the recent flaws that have surfaced in their game aside -- there is not a specific hole on their depth chart they are known to be trying to fill.
It's possible that a top-six winger will make it onto their shopping list, although Beau Bennett has looked capable of growing into that role.
And it would not be shocking to see them go shopping for a little more veteran muscle in the defense corp.
Although there have been a few significant deals during the past couple of weeks, like the one that sent Michael Ryder back to Montreal and Erik Cole to Dallas Tuesday, teams still are largely in the process of identifying their most pressing needs and the best way of addressing them.
"Every team is starting to talk to each other, find out what's out there and what teams might be looking to do," Shero said.
"It's the time of year where you're getting a feel for what other teams are looking for, what they need."
The Penguins made the kind of move Monday some teams will be looking to pull off before the deadline when they signed free-agent defenseman Mark Eaton.
Whether he eventually will crack their top six remains to be seen, but, at the very least, Eaton provides veteran depth at a position where injuries are common. And the Penguins were able to add him without giving up anything more than his pro-rated, $750,000 salary.
Although the Penguins' pipeline is clogged with promising young defensemen, prospects such as Derrick Pouliot, Joseph Morrow, Scott Harrington and Olli Maatta couldn't realistically be counted on to assume a prominent role in the high-stakes setting of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
That's why picking up a reliable, though often-injured, 35-year-old on a one-year contract made so much sense.
"You see defensemen going down quite a bit here," Shero said. "So. if you can add some depth there, that's good."
Shero has a history of being active as the deadline approaches, and there's no reason to think, at least at this point, that he will stand pat over the next four-plus weeks.
Because this season was shortened by a lockout, the deadline will arrive less than a month before the regular season ends. Shero, though, doesn't believe that will have an impact on how much activity there will be.
"It really hasn't changed anything," he said. "We're kind of moving along as we always do.
"The trade deadline is the trade deadline."
What I did on my lockout 'workcation'
Dustin Jeffrey went to Europe during the NHL lockout for reasons that were completely practical and professional.
Knee surgery had set his career back during the 2011-12 season, and Jeffrey figured he couldn't go indefinitely without participating in games.
Consequently, he signed with a Croatia-based team that competes in Austria's top league.
And, while he seemed to get everything he could have hoped for out of his on-ice experiences, Jeffrey's most lasting impression of his time on the far side of the Atlantic might be purely personal.
The things he saw and did away from the rink.
"It was my first time ever in Europe," he said. "Where we were living, it was like three hours from Venice and three hours from Budapest.
"I was able to do a little bit of traveling, just expose myself to that kind of culture. It was different.
"Growing up in a small town in Ontario, going over there to the capital city of Croatia was an experience, for sure."
The Week Ahead
Monday: vs. Tampa Bay ... The Lightning strikes twice, as Tampa Bay visits Consol Energy Center for the second time in nine days.
Thursday: at Philadelphia ... The sting of the Penguins' 6-5 home loss to the Flyers Feb. 20 probably hasn't gone away entirely just yet.
Saturday: at Toronto ... The Maple Leafs have, at times, done a pretty fair impersonation of a genuine playoff contender.
First Published March 3, 2013 12:00 am