Pittsburgh Penguins: Five Moves by Ray Shero That Had the Most Impact
Earlier this week, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero was signed to a five-year contract extension.
In his short tenure with Pittsburgh, Shero has become one of the best general managers in hockey. Not only did he bring the Penguins their first Stanley Cup in 17 years, but he has not made some of the controversial moves that other general managers have made.
You can basically guarantee that under Shero's tenure, no player will be signed to a 15-year, $100 million contract.
Shero has made his fair share of moves to benefit the Penguins.
But which ones have helped the most?
This slideshow will cover the five moves that left the most impact on the Penguins, whether it was for a short or long-term benefit.
No. 5: The Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis Acquisitions
In February 2008, Shero got Marian Hossa in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers. Hossa came to the Penguins, and forwards Colby Armstrong and Erik Christensen, along with prospect Angelo Esposito, were sent to Atlanta.
Hossa proved to be a strong addition to the Penguins, scoring 10 points in 12 games and 26 points in 20 postseason games.
The Penguins went to the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1992, but lost to the Detroit Red Wings in six games.
After the season ended, Hossa indicated that he hoped to stay with Pittsburgh. However, he ended up leaving for the Red Wings, saying that he felt playing in Detroit gave him the best chance to win the Stanley Cup.
This did not sit well with Pens fans, who believed Hossa's words that he wanted to be a Penguin long-term. Pittsburgh defeated the Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals, and Hossa once again found himself on the losing side.
Pittsburgh also got forward Pascal Dupuis in the trade. Dupuis posted 12 points in 16 games after being traded and has been with the Penguins for the last two full seasons. He will play the last year of his contract this year.
Although Hossa ended up leaving the team, his impact cannot be underestimated.
He was the part of the reason the Penguins were able to tear through the 2008 playoffs before meeting Detroit. He also caused controversy the season after he left, showing that despite his brief stay in Pittsburgh, he would always be remembered.
However, Dupuis has stuck around and improved into one of the Penguins' best forwards.
No. 4: Naming Dan Bylsma Head Coach
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In February of 2009, the Pittsburgh Penguins' chances of making the playoffs were significantly diminished.
The bottom fell out on Valentine's Day, when the Penguins gave up a 2-0 lead to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Something had to be done.
Shero came through once again, letting go of Michel Therrien promoting Dan Bylsma from the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and naming him interim head coach.
Under Bylsma's guidance, the Penguins were able to play a more free-flowing, offensive minded system. They surprised their fans and the rest of the Eastern Conference by going 18-3-4 for the rest of the regular season and locking up the fourth seed in the conference.
After the Penguins defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Shero removed the interim tag from Bylsma's title and signed him to a multi-year contract as the team's next head coach.
The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and were once again seeded fourth in this year's playoffs.
Ultimately, they fell to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
Although their early playoff exit was disappointing, Bylsma has been a good coach for the team.
He is able to relate to the players better and put them in a system that fit their talents. The Penguins are shaping up to be favorites once again, and Bylsma is part of the reason why.
No. 3: Signing Brooks Orpik to a Contract Extension
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After the 2007-2008 season, Shero signed defenseman Brooks Orpik to a six-year contract extension.
Orpik had 11 points in 78 games after that season and has improved ever since.
In 2009-2010, he had 25 points in 73 games, the best of his career. He also registered a plus-six rating.
Orpik has become one of the team's most dependable defensemen. Aside from his strong statistics, he is not afraid to use his body on opponents, which has earned him the nickname "Free Candy."
In the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals, Orpik played "The Shift" in game three, where he put four hits on Red Wings players in 15 seconds of play.
That remains one of the best moments of his Penguins career.
Not only are his statistics improving every year, he is also becoming one of the Penguins' stand-out leaders. He is not afraid to say what is on his mind about the way the team plays and has been an alternate captain at various points.
No. 2: Acquiring Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi
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When Shero was rebuilding the team to make a playoff push during that fateful 2008-2009 season, one of his biggest moves was trading underperforming defenseman Ryan Whitney to the Anaheim Ducks.
Anaheim gave the Penguins forward Chris Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi in return.
Whitney was on a sharp decline after missing the beginning of the year to recover from foot surgery.
He had posted 40 points in 2007-2008, but had just 13 points in 28 games at the time of his trade.
Kunitz came to the Penguins two years after winning his first Stanley Cup with Anaheim. After joining the team, he tallied 18 points in 20 games and 14 points in 24 playoff games as he won the second Cup of his career.
Tangradi was drafted by the Ducks in the second round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He spent four years with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, where he had 168 points in 176 games.
Tangradi joined Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the 2009-2010 season and had 65 points in 39 games. He made his NHL debut in the Penguins' last game of the season against the New York Islanders and was a part of the taxi squad for the playoffs.
He is currently still in Pittsburgh as part of the training camp roster.
Shero made a good move by trading Whitney, who was arguably one of the team's worst defensemen. Acquiring Kunitz gave him a solid scoring winger, while Tangradi is currently ranked as the Pittsburgh's top prospect and has a real shot at being a full time NHL-er.
No. 1: The Bill Guerin Trade
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Although Guerin has moved on from the Penguins, this move remains the best of Shero's tenure.
Shero acquired Guerin at the 2009 trade deadline, sending a conditional draft pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for the veteran forward.
At the time of the trade, Guerin had 80 points in 142 games with the Islanders. When he joined Pittsburgh, he had 12 points in 17 games and 15 points in 24 playoff games.
Like Chris Kunitz, he won the second Stanley Cup of his career in 2009 (the first was with the New Jersey Devils in 1995).
Guerin stayed with the Penguins in 2009-2010 and tallied 45 points in 78 games. His 11 power play goals were ranked third on the team.
Not only did Guerin provide offense, he also provided veteran leadership for a team that was still young and helped the players mature.
But in my mind, what makes this move the best is that Shero didn't give up any key pieces to get Guerin.
You can argue that both sides won the trade (the conditional pick turned into a first-round pick for the Islanders), but Guerin's arrival made Pittsburgh a better contender and did nothing to hurt the team's future.