The Pittsburgh Penguins dipped into the free agent market yesterday and recruited the services of Arron Asham for the upcoming season. Asham signed a one-year deal with the Pens for 700K.
The question most Pens’ fans are asking about this signing is why. To some, this move is highly suspect. Fans obviously see that the most glaring hole in the Pens’ lineup is the lack of a top 6 winger to provide secondary scoring.
So it begs the question, what is Penguins GM Ray Shero thinking here? Shouldn’t the priority have been to acquire someone who could provide 20-30 goals this season? It seems Shero has a new vision for the 2010-2011 Pittsburgh Penguins roster and it starts with adding more grit.
When analyzing the Pens’ performance last season, outside of the defense being the most problematic, another weakness was the lack of toughness and not committing to defensive responsibilities from the forwards.
Some forwards took a passive approach to the game and let things happen as opposed to making things happen.
Asham is the type of forward who will make things happen and be responsible defensively. He is a gritty forward with good hands, a little bit of speed and he will be a welcomed veteran presence to the team.
Remember, he just went to the finals with the Flyers last season and the road they took to get there was not an easy one. His experiences will be good addition to the Pens locker room.
Last season, Asham played in 72 games registering 24 (10-14-24) points and 126 penalty minutes for the Philadelphia Flyers. He also registered 7 (4-3-7) points and 10 penalty minutes in the post-season.
These are pretty good numbers for a guy known more for his toughness rather than being capable of putting pucks in the net.
If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past few seasons it is this, don’t question the thought process of Ray Shero. There is always a method to his madness and this signing is a great example of that.
It would appear that Shero is trying to find the right combination of skill and toughness for the lineup. Some might argue that the amount of toughness now outweighs the amount of skill, but is that the real issue here?
By adding Asham, Shero has brought in a forward that no team likes to face. Imagine what Asham and Cooke will look like on the third line. I bet a lot of NHL players teeth were chattering around the league at the thought of that.
I imagine Asham will be a part of the third line; he has the skills to be there. With the right center in place, the third line will be a very effective grinding line that could end up pumping in more goals than was originally expected.
When Shero added defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek on July 1st, he envisioned a defense that would support Fleury and lessen the amount of goals ending up in the back of their net.
Asham will help to support that cause and give the bottom 6 forwards a more defensive role in every game and help to wear other teams down.
It is not known if there is another move up Shero’s sleeves or not this off-season. The argument can be made that with acquiring Asham there is now too much toughness.
If this truly is the case then all signs point to Eric Godard being the odd man out. Honestly, who knows, no one is quite sure how the line configurations will play out until camp is underway.
If there is anything we can say it’s this, he’s not the 30-goal scorer most want to see added to the team, but he can play a big role and he will punish opposing teams. Get ready to ring in the new strategy in the Pens game plan.
Punish the Opposition!