Hamhuis trade was a shrewd move for Penguins
Three defensemen who defined general manager Ray Shero's offseason will probably be on the ice at the same time tonight when the Penguins play the Vancouver Canucks at Consol Energy Center.
One of them, Dan Hamhuis of the Canucks, represents the shrewdest trade of his tenure.
The few days Hamhuis belonged to the Penguins this past summer set the course for Shero's big-splash July 1, when he paid $45 million to defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek on separate five-year deals.
Each player has struggled of late, notably in overtime Monday night in the Penguins' home loss to the New York Rangers, but their track records suggest the investment will pay well for the Penguins, who were in need of reshaping their defense corps.
That probably wasn't possible without trading for Hamhuis, who had previously been traded from Nashville to Philadelphia before the Flyers, convinced he would test free agency, shipped him to the Penguins at the NHL Draft for a 2011 third-round pick.
"It wasn't fun being moved a couple of time before free agency," Hamhuis said Tuesday. "There certainly was a lot of pressure to sign in some places, but we wanted to go to free agency to hear from all 30 teams."
That was all Shero needed to hear, but he needed to hear that for himself and didn't waste one minute of free-agent time waiting.
Holding Hamhuis' rights afforded the Penguins an exclusive negotiating window with two of four impending free-agent defensemen they had pegged as ideal fits — Hamhuis, Martin, Michalek and Sergei Gonchar.
This was a huge advantage for the Penguins when the free-agent period opened at noon July 1. They never thought re-signing Gonchar was possible. They had assessed Hamhuis wanted to test the market.
With that knowledge, they were able to move firmly in the direction of Michalek and Martin, and they had each signed by 3 p.m. Gonchar had signed just after noon, but Hamhuis' deal with Vancouver wasn't finalized until late afternoon.
Shero was already addressing the local media by then, chatting about his defensive corps "upgrade."
Michalek and Martin haven't played up to their reputations, but that shouldn't change the opinion of the Hamhuis acquisition.
Many experts opined that he "won July 1." Actually, he won it a few days earlier by trading for Hamhuis.
BY THE NUMBERS
The Penguins are 12 for 92 on the power play, "good" for a 23rd-ranked 13 percent as of Tuesday. They play their 20th game tonight. Their power play through 20 games each of the last four seasons, all playoff campaigns, and their finishes:
PP/record first 20 games: 21 for 122 (17.2 percent)/10-7-3
PP/record final 62 games: 73 for 341 (21.4 percent)/37-17-8
PP/record first 20 games: 21 for 100 (21 percent)/8-10-2
PP/record final 62 games: 56 for 278 (20.1 percent)/39-17-6
PP/record first 20 games: 17 for 93 (18.3 percent)/12-5-3
PP/record final 62 games: 45 for 267 (16.9 percent)/33-23-6
PP/record first 20 games: 11 for 83 (13.3 percent)/13-7-0
PP/record final 62 games: 45 for 283 (15.9 percent)/34-21-7
EYE ON THE ENEMY
An NHL Insider offers insight on the Penguins' opponents for the week ahead:
Canucks (Home, 7 p.m. today): "They have a deep group overall, but their defensemen can have trouble with puck decisions under pressure."
Hurricanes (Home, 7 p.m. Friday): "As a team they can be explosive. Some of their defensemen — Joni Pitkanen, Joe Corvo, etc. — are risk takers and will take chances up in the play."
Panthers (Away, 7:30 p.m., Monday): "This team has offensive-minded forwards that have the ability to score with team speed. Puck management between blue lines is important, because you don't want to give this forwards-group any extra offensive chances."
Penguins share their thoughts on responsibility:
Max Talbot: "It's the way you act and lead and do everything in life. You can get more responsible as you get older by being more mature, and you obviously have more responsibility as an older player if you, in turn, put that maturity into your hockey game. You'll lead a little more and there is more that comes on you, and it's a good thing."
Marc-Andre Fleury: "For me, it's what I have to do to help the team win. The big part of my responsibility it to stop the puck. I'm older now, so maybe I need to try to do a little bit more other than that — but the bottom line is my responsibility is to stop the puck. If everybody does their responsibility, we'll be successful."
Paul Martin: "It's being accountable for your role, what you should be doing, how the system should be played. Being responsible is making the right decisions, doing the right things ... realizing what your potential is and trying to maintain a level of consistency people expect from you night in and night out."
ONES TO WATCH
Daniel Sedin, Canucks left wing: The ability he shares with twin-brother Henrik to find one another in the offensive zone is something special, and Vancouver's production is largely based on their success.
Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes center: He continues to produce offensively as a rookie. He is a very slippery and intelligent player disguised in a smaller frame.
Jason Garrison, Panthers defenseman: Hockey IQ stands out with this solid young defenseman. He also has a great compete-level to go with imposing size.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins GM Rutherford: Malkin’s play belies fact he missed training camp
- Penguins notebook: After slow start, penalty kill on upswing
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet wants Letang to shoot more on power play
- Penguins’ Crosby OK with Neal comments about trade
- Starkey: Hockey hypocrites, unite
- Penguins’ defenseman Maatta confident of full recovery
- Penguins notebook: Team celebrates ‘Hockey Fights Cancer’ event
- Penguins assistant coach Tocchet marvels at Maatta’s demeanor
- Maatta had been back in groove after offseason surgery
- Predators GM Poile: Penguins’ firing of Shero not fair
- Penguins veteran defenseman Scuderi’s game looking up