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Yohe’s pre-draft chat with Pens GM Ray Shero

Greetings Pens fans and Jagr Watch junkies…

GM Ray Shero is a busy man these days. Between presumably discussing the signing of Jaromir Jagr, preparing for the NHL Entry Draft and attending the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas, he’s had his hands full. But the GM did get back to me tonight, and shared some thoughts about “Jagr watch,” a stunning day of trades in Philadelphia and the upcoming draft.

Here’s what he had to say:

= On the Jagr hysteria that is taking over Pittsburgh: “I’ve been out of town so I guess I don’t know much people in Pittsburgh are talking about Jagr. Hey, I understand it. Long before I was in Pittsburgh, Jagr was an icon there. So I can understand people being interested in what’s going on.”

Shero, of course, did not elaborate on what is going on. New broke today that Jagr isn’t permitted to sign with an NHL team until July 1, something Shero said he had been aware of.

While all was reasonably quiet on the Jagr front – except for the fact that we can confirm he did speak with Mario Lemieux Thursday morning – it was a crazy afternoon on the other side of Pennsylvania.

= The Flyers traded arguably their two best players, captain Mike Richards and goal-scoring machine Jeff Carter, in separate trades. Richards now plays for the Los Angeles Kings while Carter is a Columbus Blue Jacket.

“Well,” Shero said, “it certainly took some guts to do what the Flyers did. I can’t remember two cornerstone guys like that ever being traded on the same day. But it’s not like they didn’t get anything in return. They always have the courage to make big deals. They did it with Chris Pronger a few years ago.”

The Flyers received highly touted prospect Brayden Schenn and Wayne Simmonds for Richards.

“Schenn is a really talented guy,” Shero said. “And Simmonds is going to fit in perfectly with the Penguins-Flyers rivalry. He’s a tough guy.”

The Flyers signed G Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million contract after making the trades.

= Shero is focusing on the draft this weekend – well, a meeting with Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, might happen as well – and isn’t convinced the Penguins will draft a forward. It seems likely the Penguins will select a winger, given the overall lack of depth at that position throughout the organization, but it might not work out that way.

“I always want the best player,” Shero said. “We had really good defensemen like Ryan Whitney and Alex Goligoski, and we turned them into valuable assets in trades. It always makes sense to get the best player, no matter who that might be.”

= Shero also mentioned local players that will be drafted in Minnesota. In fact, he ran into J.T. Miller, a possible first-round pick, late Thursday afternoon. A big fan of Miller and Brandon Saad, Shero is delighted that local players will play a big role in this draft.

“It’s a great thing for Pittsburgh,” he said. “I’ve known J.T. for three years. He’s such a good player.”

Shero isn’t concerned about Saad’s fading status. A year ago, he was projected as a top-5 pick. Now, he might be around when the Penguins pick at No. 23.

“Brandon Saad is going to be a good NHL player eventually,” Shero said. “Great kid. He’s got all the tools. I’m very impressed with him.”

–JOSH YOHE

Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi has covered the Penguins for parts of every season that Sidney Crosby has played in Pittsburgh. So, since 2005. He has led the Trib's NHL coverage since 2007, when he became the primary Penguins beat reporter. He joined the Tribune-Review in November 2002. Rossi, 35, is local chapter president of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association. He also dabbles in radio, as ClearChannel's "Penguins Insider," and TV, as "NHL Insider" for Root Sports Pittsburgh, and as a semi-regular contributor to The Final Word, a Sunday sports show that airs on WPXI. In 2012, Rossi was recognized nationally by Penn State's John Curley Center for Sports Journalism for his coverage of youth sports for a Trib series that investigated concussion protocol. In 2013, he teamed with Carl Prine for an investigative piece about athletes' charities what was honored regionally. A graduate of West Virginia University and Keystone Oaks High School, Rossi was raised in Crafton and Green Tree and currently resides in Brookline. He is currently working on the authorized biography of Evgeni Malkin. Follow him on Twitter: @RobRossi_Trib

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