Shero adds leadership with deal for Guerin
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SUNRISE, Fla. -- Not to say that Bill Guerin has been around a long time, but when he joins the Penguins today, he will have no trouble fitting in -- with the coaching staff, at least.
Guerin, one of the most prominent "rental" players available at yesterday's NHL trade deadline, has known Penguins interim coach Dan Bylsma -- who is 51 days his senior -- for years. He goes back even further with Penguins assistant Tom Fitzgerald.
"We used to take his brother's car and go joy riding," Guerin said of Fitzgerald last night as he reminisced about the gray Toyota Supra and those days growing up in Boston.
But Guerin, 38, is not hung up on the past. With a no-trade clause in his contract, the veteran winger had to agree to the deal with the Penguins, and he readily did so.
The Penguins sent the New York Islanders a conditional 2009 draft pick that will be a fifth-rounder if the Penguins fail to make the playoffs, a fourth-rounder if they bow out in the first round or third-rounder if they advance beyond that.
- Matchup: Penguins at Florida Panthers, 7:38 p.m. today, BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise, Fla.
- TV/Radio: FSN Pittsburgh, WXDX-FM (105.9).
- Penguins: Have won four in row and are 6-1-1 under interim coach Dan Bylsma. ... Are 7-6-0 vs. Southeast Conference. ... LW Chris Kunitz has 3 goals, 2 assists in three games with Penguins.
- Panthers: Are 8-4-3 vs. Atlantic Division. ... Through yesterday had second-worst power play, 13 percent. ... Were fourth-least penalized before last night, 11.6 minutes per game.
- Hidden stat: Florida had alternated wins and losses for 9 games before winning its second in a row Tuesday, 4-3 against Atlanta.
The only other move at the deadline that will bring a new face to tonight's game against Florida was the acquisition of forward Craig Adams, who was claimed off waivers from Chicago.
Guerin seems convinced his new club is headed for the postseason.
"This is just giving me another chance to compete for a Stanley Cup," said Guerin, who has a $4.5 million salary for 2008-09 and is eligible to be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Guerin will go from the Islanders, last in the NHL, to a Penguins team that is seventh in the Eastern Conference and can catch sixth-place Florida with a win tonight in a conference showdown at BankAtlantic Center.
The 6-foot, 220-pounder, who once was regarded as one of the game's premier power forwards, needs one point to become the 14th U.S.-born player to reach 800 in the NHL. He became the eighth U.S. native to record 400 career goals Dec. 26.
With the Islanders, he was second in scoring with 16 goals, 20 assists in 61 games.
"I think we have the players he can play with and support to give him, and, likewise, he's going to do the same for us and give us the veteran presence, the size and the shot to make our other players better," Penguins general manager Ray Shero said.
Shero wouldn't predict where Bylsma might use Guerin in the stretch run, although a strong guess would be alongside center Sidney Crosby, who has missed the past four games because of a groin injury and said after participating in an optional practice that he is unsure if he will play tonight.
"I'd be thrilled. Who wouldn't be?" said Guerin, whose penchant for shooting the puck could dovetail with Crosby's playmaking. "But I'll play anywhere Dan wants to put me."
Guerin was the subject of negotiations with another NHL team earlier this week and was pulled out of the Islanders' lineup. Only after a deal fell through with a club Guerin and Shero declined to name did the Penguins get a shot at him.
To make room under the salary cap for Guerin and Adams, the Penguins reassigned winger Miroslav Satan to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, although he might not need to report there immediately as Shero looks at his options.
The Penguins signed Satan to a one-year, $3.5 million free-agent contract last summer with the hope he would click with Crosby.
"He's had a hard time getting on the top two lines this season," Shero said.
Satan -- who has a goal in two of the past three games playing mostly on a fourth line and 39 points overall but has been inconsistent offensively -- cleared waivers yesterday.
One thing that was not going to happen, Shero said, was a trade involving 20-year-old center Jordan Staal or a first- or second-round draft pick despite interest from teams.
Adams, 31, had become an odd man out in favor of the Blackhawks' young core. He dressed for just 36 games this season with Chicago, getting two goals, four assists. He has not played since Feb. 24.
"My role here was sort of diminished lately," Adams said.
He is two games shy of 500 for his NHL career, with 37 goals, 52 assists for 89 points.
Adams, who earns $600,000 this season and, like Guerin, is eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1, appears to be the sort of player who fits the Penguins' style.
"The strength of my game is getting in there on the forecheck, trying to be physical," he said.
In a swap of minor league defensemen with St. Louis earlier yesterday, the Penguins got 6-3, 195-pound Andy Wozniewski for Danny Richmond. Wozniewski, 28, will join Wilkes-Barre. He had one goal, 16 assists in 56 games with St. Louis' AHL affiliate in Peoria.
To clear room on their roster, the Penguins sent forwards Bill Thomas, a Fox Chapel native, and Tim Wallace to Wilkes-Barre.
In a surprising move involving the AHL Baby Penguins, winger Luca Caputi, one of the top prospects in their organization, was demoted to the Penguins' ECHL minor league team in Wheeling for violating unspecified team rules. Defenseman Jon D'Aversa was sent to the Nailers for the same reason, while forwards Chris Minard and Aaron Boogaard were healthy scratches for a game against Binghamton last night for similar violations.
"We're going to hold everybody accountable, no matter what draft pick you are or what prospect you are, or whether you're on an NHL contract or an AHL contract," Shero said.
First Published March 5, 2009 12:00 am