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Today's trade deadline could pass quietly for Pens

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Monday, Feb. 28, 2011

Penguins general manager Ray Shero has not ruled out making another move before today's 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline, but his acquisitions last week of wingers Alex Kovalev and James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen already have addressed perceived needs.

With more trades this year leading to the deadline than in any season since the 2004-05 lockout, fewer players are available for contending clubs. Fewer clubs are out of contention, too. As of Sunday, 25 of 30 teams were within 10 points of a playoff spot.

Shero said Thursday the Penguins have room under the NHL's $59.4 million salary cap because injured center Evgeni Malkin's $8.7 million prorated salary no longer counts against their cap, given his placement on the long-term injury list.

The Penguins (37-21-6, 80 points) figure to upgrade today even if they don't make a move.

They made room on their roster yesterday -- and saved more room under the cap -- for the return of left wing Chris Kunitz and defenseman Paul Martin by re-assigning centers Dustin Jeffrey and Joe Vitale and defenseman Brian Strait to the AHL.

Kunitz, who has scored 18 goals, has missed the past 10 games with an undisclosed lower-body injury. Martin, second among team defensemen with 21 points, has missed four consecutive games because of a sore right shoulder and neck.

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