Penguins acquire defenseman Murray from San Jose
Ray Shero is not thinking about the Stanley Cup.
“What we've talked about is getting to the playoffs and winning four games,” said Shero, the Penguins general manager. “Just win four games. Then we're going to get onto the next four games. That's all we're going to do. You have to have the right complement of players to try to do that, to give yourself the best chance.”
The Penguins added rugged defenseman Douglas Murray from San Jose on Monday afternoon. The exchange was a second-round pick at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional third-round pick next year.
Murray, 33, is on an expiring contract. If he re-signs with the Penguins, that conditional pick becomes a second rounder. Also, that 2014 pick would become a second rounder if the Penguins win two playoff rounds this season.
Murray did not play top-four minutes with the Sharks, averaging a tick more than 17 minutes. However, his nearly three minutes of shorthanded ice time was second for San Jose, and his 64 blocked shots rated among the top 25 of all NHL players.
Murray will not play for the Penguins against Montreal at Consol Energy Center on Tuesday but should debut against Winnipeg at home Thursday.
Shero may have made another move or two by then.
His aim is to shore up a penalty kill that ranked 21st as of Monday, but he has not ruled out anything other than goaltender — even another top-six winger or a bottom-six forward.
The Penguins have a little less than $20 million in prorated salary-cap space to spend on players in advance of the April 3 trade deadline. Murray is the 47th player on a Reserve List that maxes out at 50.
Shero and his staff have spent the past four regular seasons trying to preserve as much cap space as possible for possible deadline-period moves.
Five years ago, he turned roster flexibility into wingers Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis and defenseman Hal Gill at the trade deadline. The Penguins played in the Stanley Cup Final that June and won the Cup the next year.
“There's one thing to have salary-cap space, but if you don't have the assets it's tough to get anybody,” Shero said.
Murray was had in part because Shero secured a 2013 third-round pick — Dallas' lowest of multiple Round 3 picks — in the trade for left winger Brenden Morrow on Sunday afternoon. To land Morrow, Shero surrendered Joe Morrow, a top defensive prospect, and the Penguins' 2013 fifth-round pick.
The Penguins (25-8-0, 50 points) lead the Eastern Conference and have won 12 consecutive games, but Shero does not seem influenced by either his club's record or winning streak.
Morrow and Murray add an element of toughness, coach Dan Bylsma said.
The Penguins have not admitted they lacked that attribute in their last three playoff losses — all to lower-seeded opponents — but Shero and Bylsma have each recently referred to a favorite phrase: “tough to play against.”
Shero's best clubs — those Cup Final teams — have blended skill and grit, youth and experience and a nucleus with fresh faces.
These Penguins fit that mold.
“Everybody believes they have a good team,” Shero said. “We have a nice, good team. You try to do what you can to strengthen it and let them play.”