"Nobody going and nobody coming," Penguins GM Ray Shero said in a Monday press conference. "Our roster’s our roster moving forward."
This wasn't unexpected. The market favored sellers. The Penguins sit near the salary cap. James Neal recently signed a $30-million contract extension which all but concretes next year's cap space and roster, and the team is in strong standing in the East (fourth as of Monday morning).
Outside the organization, the conditions just weren't in place to necessitate a big deal from the Penguins.
"It was just one of those trade deadlines," Shero said. "I think this is my sixth trade deadline here and we’ve always been active doing something. This is the first time we have not done anything. It just really wasn’t there for us in terms of the players that were available."
Certainly, the market didn't favor a team like the Penguins. As players like Ales Hemsky and Tuomo Ruutu gradually re-signed with their current teams in the lead-up to the deadline, the price for remaining trade targets increased.
"You really see it with the standings being so close. Some teams went all the way through yesterday’s games to make some decisions on players, whether to trade them or keep them. You were kind of getting the usual, ‘If I get blown away by an offer I might consider moving my player.’ Well, a lot of these players didn’t move because teams wouldn’t pay that price."
Those players who did move were mostly overpaid for. Buffalo's Paul Gaustad cost Nashville a first-round draft choice despite never having scored in 38 career playoff games. Andrei Kostitsyn also moved to Music City at the cost of two draft picks, despite playing on pace for the worst PPG and plus-minus numbers of his career this season.
"Whether it was the price, in our opinion, was too high on some players, or there was just wasn’t a fit on our end...we did make some offers on some players, but those players never even got moved. It was a long day to really come up with nothing."
What this means for the Penguins is that they'll continue to rely on the roster as it's presently constructed.
That roster happens to have gone 3-0-0 in its last three games, outscoring opponents 14-3 over that span while moving to within seven points of the New York Rangers for the Atlantic Division lead.
"We have a lot of guys here who have won the Stanley Cup. We’ve had the most man-games lost in the league due to injury and we are finally starting to get healthy again."
It's easy to stand pat on a roster that includes a goaltender with the second-most wins the NHL, the league's leading power-play scorer and the favorite to win the Art Ross and Hart Trophies.
"We’re shooting the puck and getting it through. Neal and Malkin have made a big difference. And you have Jordan Staal with 21 goals. Obviously, these guys are making a difference."
That's to say nothing of players Shero anticipates the team will get back from injured reserve.
"We’re going to get a few injured players back here, hopefully Arron Asham soon and Tyler Kennedy, and we’re going to go forward with our team."
And what of that other guy?
"As I said (Sunday), I’m hopeful [Crosby] will be able to come back and play. There’s no guarantee of that."
For the Penguins, a deal just wasn't in the cards. The market was soft. The roster is strong. The team had climbed to a home-ice playoff position as of Monday morning despite playing in what might be, from first place to fifth place, hockey's best division.
Shero has spent years building a good product in Pittsburgh. Even if the team's league-leading man-games lost to injury numbers keeps it incomplete at the moment, Shero and his staff have to be more optimistic about the conditions inside the organization than the cost of assets on the market.
"The special teams have been good. Our penalty kill has been amongst the top in the league. Our power play has been very good obviously. Just a lot of things have come together for us and we’ve got some of these injured players back. We have a number of those guys who have rings in the room. That counts for something as we move forward towards the playoffs."
Unless otherwise attributed, all quotes obtained and used with permission.