Penguins Notebook: Don't look for any more deals
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The asterisk is always there.
With the NHL trade deadline looming at 3 p.m. today, most indications are that the Penguins are not poised to make a high-impact move.
That's not surprising, since they already brought in left winger James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen from Dallas a week ago, then added their rental winger of choice by acquiring Alex Kovalev from Ottawa last Thursday.
"I think we've made our moves here," general manager Ray Shero said Sunday evening.
However, he added that "we've had conversations with a few teams on a few different things," so the Penguins clearly haven't ruled out doing something else.
Indeed, because deals can come together just as quickly as they can fall apart, it would be premature, at best, to suggest that the Penguins are guaranteed to be quiet today.
Things can change in a heartbeat if a club decides that it would be willing to part with a particular player or prospect, after all. If one trade is completed that opens the salary-cap space needed to make another. If a general manager concludes that the urgency to fill a particular hole is so great that it justifies meeting demands that previously seemed unreasonable.
If any of that happens -- and it does fairly often at this time of year, when general managers are desperate to put together a lineup that can qualify for the playoffs, or make a significant run once it's there -- the landscape can be altered instantly and dramatically.
Hence, the asterisk.
The Penguins' primary interest as the deadline approaches appears to be in another goal-scoring winger, presumably a rental. Bringing in an experienced center or depth defenseman can't be ruled out if the asking price is acceptable, either.
It wasn't a trade, but the Penguins did make a surprise move Sunday, when forward Dustin Jeffrey was assigned to their team in Wilkes-Barre.
He had just returned to the lineup Friday after missing six games because of an injury, and has five goals and three assists in 15 games with the Penguins this season.
Jeffrey's demotion likely means that left winger Chris Kunitz, who has missed the past 10 games because of an unspecified injury, will be in the lineup for the Penguins Wednesday at Toronto.
Center Joe Vitale and defenseman Brian Strait also were sent to the Baby Penguins.
Vitale's departure presumably means the Penguins expect right winger Tyler Kennedy, who sat out their 6-5 shootout victory Saturday in Toronto, to play Wednesday, while returning Strait to the Baby Penguins opens a spot for defenseman Paul Martin, who was injured the past four games.
Coach Dan Bylsma gave his players Sunday off and, after playing three games in three cities in four nights, odds are just about all of them appreciated the chance to rest.
Some guys probably liked it more than others.
That's particularly true of defenseman Kris Letang, who played 31 minutes, 21 seconds against San Jose this past Wednesday, 25:44 at Carolina Friday and 32:47 Saturday in Toronto.
Center Jordan Staal has been keeping pretty busy lately, too, especially by forward standards. He logged 29:04, 18:57 and 20:22 in those three games.
Center Mark Letestu returned to the lineup a bit ahead of schedule Saturday, but that doesn't mean he was eased in by Bylsma.
Letestu played 13:59 and used his 19 shifts to score one goal and assist on another.
"He took it easy on me in the first," Letestu said, smiling. "But as the game went on, obviously with overtime and the power plays, he got me out there quite a bit.
"It felt good to get the legs going. I didn't feel fatigued at all. It's something to build on for Wednesday."
First Published February 28, 2011 12:00 am