Penguins Notebook: Shero plans to be active at trade deadline
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DENVER -- The NHL trade deadline is less than two weeks away and, no, Penguins general manager Ray Shero doesn't expect to be just an interested onlooker between now and then.
That doesn't mean he is poised to make a personnel move anytime soon.
"Not unless it's a call-up from Wilkes-Barre," he said, laughing. "I'm good at those."
Shero should be, with all the practice he has had in the past few weeks.
But bringing up guys from the American Hockey League is a short-term response to injury problems. A trade before the Feb. 28 deadline would have longer-lasting implications, especially if Shero doesn't settle for adding "rental" players whose contracts expire after this season.
"Everything you do, you have to keep in mind how that's going to affect us moving forward," he said Wednesday.
At this point, he seems willing to consider deals that would bring in guys who are on the cusp of free agency as well as those for players with time left on their contracts.
It is unlikely either will happen until he can get a complete read on the market, and that isn't possible yet.
"There aren't a lot of guys who are selling players [yet], so it's not like players are getting thrown at me, left and right," he said. "I have an idea of what I want to do and what price I might want to pay -- and not overpay, obviously.
"I have a decent idea [of who might be available] from talking to a number of the teams. For some teams, it's still a little early to decide if they're going to make a move with somebody "
The Penguins' primary target is believed to be a goal-scoring winger, although the idea of pursuing a center to fill in for Evgeni Malkin, out for the season after knee surgery, apparently hasn't been ruled out.
Shero would neither identify the players in whom he is interested nor reveal how many there are.
"We can have some names [to target], but if teams don't want to move [that individual] ... I'm sure teams would like Jordan Staal, but he's not getting traded," he said.
Penguins left winger Matt Cooke completed his four-game suspension Wednesday night.
Suffice to say, it won't be a tough call for coach Dan Bylsma to add him to the lineup Sunday when the Penguins visit Chicago.
Cooke is a valuable member of the Penguins' highly effective penalty-killing unit, which had allowed five goals in the previous two games before they faced Colorado Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center.
He also is an effective forechecker who can make life miserable for opponents with his speed and physical play.
"He's a tough guy to play against," Bylsma said. "He's a physical guy. He's also a guy who can play the game in the offensive zone. He can make plays and can add offensively. That makes it more aggravating to play against him, I think, because he can be used on our power play and in front of the net."
Cooke was suspended for a hit from behind on Columbus defenseman Fedor Tyutin Feb. 8.
Colorado entered its game against the Penguins on an eight-game losing streak, and a bad situation for the Avalanche got a lot worse Wednesday morning, when it was announced that forward Matt Duchene will be out indefinitely because of a hand injury.
Duchene leads Colorado in goals (21), points (47) and shots (141), and was chosen to play in the All-Star Game last month.
"It's just something we have to deal with," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "Every team goes through these situations. We'd never use it as an excuse.
"It has an impact on our club, no question. All the injuries have an impact on our club. But we don't feel sorry for ourselves. No one else certainly will."
There doesn't seem to be any significant change in Sidney Crosby's status.
Bylsma confirmed Wednesday that Crosby still is in the "light workouts" phase of his recovery from a concussion that has prevented him from playing since Jan. 5.
"He needs to be symptom-free," Bylsma said, adding that "he's not getting checked out every day."
Once he clears this hurdle, Crosby will have to get through more rigorous off-ice workouts without experiencing symptoms before receiving clearance to practice. He then will have to get through on-ice sessions without symptoms before he will be allowed to play.
Peter Forsberg aborted his final comeback attempt Monday, when he announced his retirement after appearing in two games with the Avalanche over the weekend.
Forsberg's attempt to resurrect his career at age 37 generated a lot of attention, and Sacco suggested there was no downside to having him around.
"It was a good experience for a lot of our younger players to have him around," he said. "Peter was very professional when he was here for the short amount of time we had him.
"He didn't want to come in and be a distraction, and he was not that. He was the farthest thing from that."
Penguins defenseman Alex Goligoski never faced Forsberg in a game and seemed a bit disappointed that it wasn't possible Wednesday night.
"He's a guy I grew up watching," Goligoski said. "He was kind of in his prime when I saw him play. He was unbelievable, so it would have been pretty cool to play against him."
Teammate Pascal Dupuis, however, did it a number of times, and saw enough of Forsberg to be grateful that he didn't have to do it again.
"I played plenty against him," Dupuis said. "He's a good player, hard to play against, so I'm kind of glad we don't have to play against him."
Colorado lost three of its final four games before the all-star break in late January, but figured the time off would allow it to regroup for a surge through the final two months of the regular season.
It hasn't worked out that way.
The Avalanche lost its first seven games after the break, putting it in a 1-10 skid before facing the Penguins.
"Coming off the all-star break, we had pretty high hopes for the stretch run," defenseman Matt Hunwick said. "We just haven't been able to get on track, and things started to snowball and confidence starts to run a little low.
"It's been tough, but we're trying to stay positive and get that first win and get ourselves back on track."
The high temperature in Denver flirted with 70 Wednesday, and no one seemed to complain about it.
Not after how cold it has been for much of the winter in Western Pennsylvania.
Perhaps surprisingly, defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who spent the previous five winters in Phoenix, said recently that he doesn't mind the conditions he has experienced over the past few months.
"I actually like winter, like the snow," he said. "I hadn't experienced it for a few years, but it's like back home when I was growing up. It reminds me of those times. It's fun."
He enjoys the Penguins' travel schedule, too. They flew across two time zones to take on the Avalanche, but such trips are a rarity.
When he was with the Coyotes, Michalek played intra-conference games in four time zones. With the Penguins, he can be in his own bed three or four hours after most road games end.
"It's such a big difference," he said. "I feel like I'm home all the time. I feel like we play almost all home games. It's so much easier on your body, and my wife is happier, too, because I'm home more often.
"It's definitely a big difference. My brother [Milan] went from San Jose to Ottawa, and he told me the same thing. I was like, 'Yeah, whatever.' But now I see it."
First Published February 17, 2011 12:25 am