The Pittsburgh Penguins have set the standard for trade deadline success this season, and this trend follows the blueprint of past Penguins teams. Pittsburgh has never been shy to tinker with a winning formula and dealing from a position of strength to get even stronger. Here is the track record of what the Championship Penguins teams of the past have done to improve their chances:
1991 – With Mario Lemieux playing only 26 regular season games, the Penguins did a lot of tinkering during the season. They traded one of their leading scorers, John Cullen along with Zarley Zalapski (one of the best names in hockey) and Jeff Parker to the Hartford Whalers for Ron Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings in one of the biggest blockbuster deadline deals ever. The Pens had also brought in Larry Murphy earlier in the season from the Minnesota North Stars and Scott Young from Hartford. Jiri Hrdina and Gordie Roberts were also additions near the deadline that contributed during the Cup run.
1992 – Coming off a Stanley Cup run, you would think the Penguins would be satisfied with their roster and comfortable heading into the post-season. Not so much. The Pens dealt Hall of Fame defenseman Paul Coffey to the Kings for Jeff Chychrun, Brian Benning and a first round pick. They then traded their leading scorer from the previous season, Mark Recchi, along with Benning and that first round pick to the rival Flyers for power forward Rick Tocchet and towering defenseman Kjell Samuelsson as well as veteran backup goalie Ken Wreggett.
2009 – The Penguins brought in the veteran presence of Bill Guerin for a draft pick, Chris Kunitz for Ryan Whitney, Philippe Boucher for Darryl Sydor and claimed Craig Adams off waivers from the Blackhawks. Three of the acquisitions had Stanley Cup rings. The Penguins had lost to the Red Wings the previous year, and felt they needed to bulk up in the leadership department. The moves worked and the Pens beat the Wings in the rematch.
2013 – The Penguins made the biggest splashes so far this season, bringing in over 2000 games of experience and two former captains in the form of Jarome Iginla from the Flames and Brenden Morrow from the Stars. They also added defenseman Douglas Murray from the Sharks, shoring up the defensive part of their explosive offensive game.
However, big moves are never a guarantee for success. The Penguins found that out when they dealt for Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis in 2008, but lost in the finals. However, the move came within an eyelash of working, and there were 28 other teams that would have traded spots with them.
If you look at the rest of the Penguins’ deadline history, there really isn’t a ton of big roster transactions where the Pens were buyers. When they make big moves to bring in big name players, success tends to follow.
Will the Penguins continue that trend, and do they have any more tricks up their sleeves for the next couple of days?