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The first Deadline Period update (key name: Hemsky).


Greetings from Chicago, dear readers. Weather was better in Pittsburgh when I left my fair city this Sunday morning. Chicago: chilly, rainy, and considerably lacking buzz for a game between the last two Cup winners — not that either the Blackhawks or Penguins resemble their most recent title teams.

= So, as has been policy from Day 1, I won’t be throwing out names or rumors as the Feb. 28 trade deadline approaches. Same rule applies as has in years past: Even for the blog, I’ll need to have heard something from two independent sources before I bring it up.

Translation: There are plenty of blogs where you can find rumors. This isn’t one.

What I can report is that Pens GM Ray Shero is talking with other GMs, but he does that at this time every season, so I wouldn’t try to pass that off as “news.” There seems to be a lot of quiet regarding the Penguins right now, and the speculation I’ve read that they should feel compelled to make a move just because of a busy past several days by other NHL clubs — well, I can report they don’t feel compelled to do anything because of moves made by other teams. Never have. Won’t in the future. That isn’t how Shero works.

Now, if another club is moving in on landing a player they really want (think: RW Bill Guerin in 2009), well, that is another story. Then you can expect Shero to get aggressive, though not to the point of giving away the farm – half of which is playing for the Penguins now, anyway.

A history lesson: Aside from last season, Shero has played it patient and waited until Deadline Day to improve his team. (I’m not counting the 2009 swap of D Ryan Whitney for LW Chris Kunitz and LW Eric Tangradi because it happened several weeks before the deadline that year. The Penguins deadline moves in 2007, 2008 and 2009 all happened on Deadline Day — and up against the deadline in 2008 and 2009.)

My point: Shero has been credited often, not just by me, for “winning” the trade deadline. He’s done so by not tipping his hand early. Last year he did make moves in the days before Deadline Day, and those acquisitions — D Jordan Leopold and RW Alexei Ponikarovsky – are the ones that didn’t really pay off.

Anyway, the whole point for this post was to note this bit of information I’ve heard regarding Ales Hemsky of the Oilers. I’ve heard from an NHL agent and somebody high within the Penguins that the asking price is “huge” — at least a first-round pick and player off the NHL roster, probably more. Judge for yourself if that price is too high for the Penguins, but do consider that Hemsky still has a year remaining on his contract — always a factor for the cap-strapped Penguins, as they will be cap-strapped for at least the next couple of seasons.





Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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