A good snowy Monday to the dear readers in Pittsburgh, and anywhere else where there is no snow, which seems to be everywhere else.
This seems a good place to tie up some loose ends regarding the Penguins acquisition of LW Brenden Morrow:
= No sooner had the story of him being asked to enact a clause in his contract that gave him authority to approve a trade broken on Sunday afternoon – credit, where it is due, to TSN’s Darren Dreger for that scoop – was word passed this way that Boston was also in the mix.
Multiple texts from people within the hockey world informed that Morrow had the option of choosing between the Bruins and Penguins.
Penguins GM Ray Shero downplayed that Sunday night when speaking about Morrow:
“The conversation with Brenden, he was never aware of other teams involved, and that’s from Dallas’ standpoint,” Shero said. “What (Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk) wanted to do was get a deal in place and then go to Brenden and say, ‘I have a deal in place; will you waive to go to Pittsburgh.’
“Having talked to Brenden this afternoon, he was very excited. It was an easy conversation.”
Well, friend of this blog and ace reporter Joe Haggerty of Comcast Sportsnet New England unearthed this information on the Bruins’ offer: http://www.csnne.com/blog/bruins-talk/source-bs-bid-morrow-falls-short
Knowing that information, it is no wonder Shero felt necessary to make D Joe Morrow – a prized prospect ranked tops in the organization as of last summer – part of this deal.
Shero wanted Brenden Morrow. He wanted to add a winger with grit and character, and somebody that players in his room could rally around – similar to the way the 2009 Penguins rallied around RW Bill Guerin.
Shero has been adamant that the market was costly as the April 3 deadline approached. To get what he wanted, he had to give up something significant.
That would explain how this Morrow-for-Morrow swap happened.
If Shero didn’t strike, the Bruins would have – and the best defense was a good offense on this situation.
= How Shero scored one of the Stars’ multiple third-round picks – no insignificant get in this trade – may be the question a lot of us are asking several years from now.
That, folks, is good managing.
= On the topic of Joe Morrow, do consider that Shero has seemingly mastered the art of moving a player when he can net the highest return. See: Ryan Whitney-for-Chris Kunitz/Eric Tangradi in 2009; Alex Goligoski-for-James Neal/Matt Niskanen in 2011.
There will be a day when Shero moves a player that becomes a stud for another franchise, and perhaps Joe Morrow will prove that player. So far, though, it has not happened.
Just, keep in mind, before the rush to bury Joe Morrow begins, that he was viewed highly by Penguins scouts, who were very surprised about his departure on Sunday. Also, he was only expendable because the Penguins’ added two first-round defensemen at the 2012 NHL Draft.
Defensive depth is like starting pitching in baseball. The hockey club that has it will always have options. The Penguins still have it, and they are still looking to upgrade before the deadline.
= After the latest round of calls, it looks as though Shero is still targeting a top-six defenseman, a fourth-line center, and possibly a bottom-six winger. That latter is perhaps more a luxury than anything.
The aim is to improve the penalty kill, the one Achilles heel for a Penguins squad that has won 12 in a row and looks to be the best in the East.
= Shero has room to make moves, know that much.
The Penguins have only 46 players on their Reserve List. The limit is 50.
The Penguins awoke Monday able to add about $20 million worth of players under the salary cap, and that number will prorate as days pass before April 3.
Resources are not unlimited, but at no point since 2008 has Shero and his staff had this much flexibility as the deadline approached.
Considering that at no point since 2009 have Shero and his staff been so confident that Cs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be healthy heading into the playoffs – well, perhaps it is not a surprise that there is a Go-For-It sense within the organization.
Three straight losses to lower-seeded playoff clubs is not sitting well with Shero.
Remember this quote from the day the lockout ended:
“We can talk about a Stanley Cup, but first you’ve got to talk about winning four games.”
Make no mistake. There IS a mandate for these Penguins.