Andrew McGilligan | Out of WriteField
Being an NHL General Manager comes with enormous pressure, constant scrutiny and second-guessing by players, fans, media and ultimately ownership.
It’s a tough business, but there’s one rule all NHL GM’s should live by, one that will extend their stay as the boss of hockey operations for a considerable amount of time – DO NOT MAKE A TRADE WITH RAY SHERO.
Seriously, don’t do it. If you do, start looking for the nearest employment office because your days are numbered. Calgary Flames GM Jay Feaster is the latest to strike a deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins GM, sending beloved captain Jarome Iginla to the Penguins for two prospects that wouldn’t rate anywhere near the top five in the Pens system and a first-round pick in 2013 that will be in the late 20’s.
In fairness to Feaster, he was limited in where he could trade Iginla and there’s a good chance any deal he made wouldn’t have been met with mass approval, but this – on paper – looks bad. He can take solace in the fact it’s not the first time Shero has done this. Let’s look back at some of the big deals the Pittsburgh GM pulled off in the past few years.
Feb. 26, 2008
Pittsburgh trades Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and 1st round pick in 2008 (Daultan Leveille) for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis
Result: Hossa and Dupuis helped the Penguins reach the Cup final in 2008 and was the biggest trade of the year. Hossa finished third in playoff scoring with 26 points in 20 games, the two players who finished tied for first with 27 were Sidney Crosby and Conn Smythe-winner Henrik Zetterberg. Hossa would sign with the Red Wings in the offseason, but Dupuis remained and won the Cup the following season.
The other players were traded to the Thrashers, a team that no longer exists, so it’s fairly obvious who won this deal. An interesting note is that Esposito and Leveille were both first-round draft picks, but neither has suited up for an NHL game. Armstrong and Christensen were with the Thrashers for a couple of years before being finding their way out of Atlanta before the team moved to Winnipeg. Dupuis has been a main stay in Pittsburgh with much of the time spent on Crosby’s wing.
Feb. 26, 2009
Pittsburgh trades Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi
Result: A year to the day after fleecing Atlanta, Shero and his staff take their act to the West Coast and rob the ducks. Kunitz would win the Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009 and is in the top five in scoring this season. Whitney has been a healthy scratch for the Oilers this season. Enough said.
March 4, 2009
Pittsburgh trades a conditional fifth-round pick (Michael Lee) to the New York Islanders for Bill Guerin
Result: Guerin played two seasons in Pittsburgh with the team winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. In total, Guerin played in 130 games for the Penguins, racking up 81 points. The Islanders traded the pick to the Phoenix Coyotes who selected goaltender Mike Lee who has yet to appear in an NHL game.
Feb. 21, 2011
Pittsburgh trades Alex Goligoski to the Dallas Stars for James Neal and Matt Niskanen
Result: New rule, do not trade with Pittsburgh in February, nothing good will come of it. The funniest part of this deal is picturing Shero saying that Neal for Goligoski wouldn’t be fair, he’d need another asset. Goligoski has been solid for the Stars, but since arriving in Pittsburgh Neal has continued to improve into one of the top goal scorers in the league. In fact, Niskanen’s numbers since the deal – 130 games played and 71 points – have been slightly better than Goligoski’s (125 gp, 62 pts).
Many people will mention that Feaster had his back against the wall with Iginla only wanting to go to a few teams. Shero faced a similar situation with Jordan Staal last summer, but had the disadvantage of Staal only wanting to play in Carolina with his brother Eric. Shero quickly pulled the trigger, sending Staal to the Hurricanes for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and a 1st round pick in 2012 (Derrick Pouliot). Sutter has 14 points in 34 contests this season while Staal has racked up 20 in 31 games. Pouliot is part of the glut of young defensemen Pittsbugh has in its system including fellow first-round picks Simon Despres and Olli Maata as well as second-rounder Scott Harrington. It’s that core of young blueliners that allowed Shero to deal 2011 first-rounder Joe Morrow to Dallas for Brenden Morrow a week ago.
So the thing to remember is this – if you’re an NHL GM and Shero calls, don’t answer…especially if it’s February.
By the Numbers
Here’s a breakdown of the trades above in terms of games played and points. The numbers are consistent with how may games the players involved played with Pittsburgh and their trading partner. Numbers include the Staal-Sutter deal and are current as of Mar. 28, 2013.
1,248 games played
Teams that traded with Pittsburgh acquired:
487 games played