Well, the NHL trade deadline has come and gone. And this just in:
"The Penguins strengthened their defensive corps on Monday when they acquired Jordan Leopold from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a second-round draft pick. His acquisition gives the Penguins a puck-moving, two-way blueliner capable of playing in all situations. Leopold also gives the Penguins the luxury of having nine NHL-caliber defensemen in their system heading into the postseason, including seven veterans at the NHL level. Such depth will keep everybody competing hard for ice time and will allow head coach Dan Bylsma to rest some of his veterans down the stretch as he sees fit. If the Penguins somehow run into a rash of injuries defensively, Ben Lovejoy and Deryk Engelland proved earlier this season they can perform on the NHL stage. Neither would hinder the Penguins if they were pressed into duty down the stretch or during the postseason.
"Offensively, the addition of Alexei Ponikarovsky adds scoring depth to a group of forwards who already rank among the best in the league. Ponikarovsky brings size (6-foot-4), physicality and a deft touch around the cage. The speculation is that he will play the left side on a line with Evgeni Malkin. Ponikarovsky will also help on the second power-play unit as a potential net-front presence. Only Sidney Crosby (42) and Malkin (21) have more goals this season than Ponikarovsky's 19."
NHL.com's John McGourty believes the Leopold acquisition adds some bulk to a defensive corps that's, well, a little light in the ass. He's only behind Orpik, who might have psychological issues, and Letang in hits. Personally, I've been concerned about the D all season. The blue line just hasn't impressed me much--beyond Gonchar and Orpik--in the few games I've seen.
Am I the only one who misses Darius Kasparaitis?
And it looks like the addition of Ponikarovsky will, let's hope, mean more lights-out scoring.
Yahoo's Puck Daddy gives the Pens an A for this year's deadline activities:
Another bit of Ray Shero deadline magic. After seeing what went down the following day, landing explosive forward Alex Ponikarovsky for prospect Luca Caputi(notes) and salary dump Martin Skoula was aces. Ditto the trade for Jordan Leopold, who will bring the Hal Gill(notes)/Rob Scuderi veteran aesthetic to the blue line. Shero has a knack for understanding what his roster and his locker room need. He exhibited it again this week.
Let's hope he's right. Last year was kinda fun.
PS. While I'd love to see the Pens repeat, I'd reeeeallllyyyyyy love to see them knock the Caps out of the playoffs again. I just love all my co-workers' dejection after last year's Game 7. I "rocked the red" at work the next day. Bwaahhhaaahhhhaaaaa!!!