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GM Shero adds more grit at NHL deadline

| Thursday, March 5, 2009

General manager Ray Shero believes he has made the Penguins tougher over the past week by adding hard-edged forwards Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin and Craig Adams.

Each of those players — Guerin and Adams acquired Wednesday prior to the 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline — has won the Stanley Cup.

Shero is not sure they are the missing pieces to a repeat Cup run for the defending Eastern Conference champion Penguins, but he does think his club is "solidified" as a playoff team.

Given their standing Feb. 15, when interim coach Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien, the Penguins will take that — and take their chances if they reach the postseason.

"We've put together a little streak here and certainly have a long way to go, and we're going to need help from everybody, including our newcomers," Shero said yesterday of the Penguins (33-26-6, 72 points), who are 6-1-1 with Bylsma.

The help Shero handed Bylsma yesterday will be in the lineup tonight at Florida against the Panthers (33-23-3, 74 points).

Prior to the deadline, the Penguins held the eighth and final Eastern Conference playoff spot.

They are 3-0-0 since Shero's pre-deadline-day strike last Thursday, when he sent defenseman Ryan Whitney to Anaheim for Kunitz and prospect Eric Tangradi.

Kunitz, repeatedly described as a "top six winger" by Penguins brass, has scored three goals and recorded five points in three games with the Penguins.

Guerin, acquired yesterday from the New York Islanders in exchange for a conditional pick in the June entry draft, would not guarantee a similar start. However, he said his style at age 38 has not changed from when he broke into the league at 21 in 1991.

"I'm the same player I've always been: I go to the net, I like to shoot the puck, I try to bring a physical presence, and I try to be a good teammate — those are the important things," said Guerin, who like Adams can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The Islanders' captain and "a great leader," according to New York general manager Garth Snow, Guerin waived a no-movement clause to join the Penguins. He is a right-handed shot and should get a crack at playing with Kunitz and center Sidney Crosby, who has missed four consecutive games with a sore groin.

Shero said Bylsma will make lineup decisions but said Guerin "can still play with good players."

The Penguins' two top players are centers Evgeni Malkin, the NHL scoring leader, and Crosby, who ranks third.

Guerin (16 goals in 61 games) will cost the Penguins at least their fifth-round pick at the draft, a fourth-round pick if they reach the playoffs and a third-round pick if they advance past the opening round. That third-round pick is not the one Shero acquired from Tampa Bay last June for the rights to wingers Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts.

The offseason losses of Malone, Roberts and wingers Jarkko Ruutu and Adam Hall made these Penguins far too easy to play against, Shero said yesterday.

Snagging Kunitz, Guerin and Adams — a checking-line forward claimed yesterday off waivers from Chicago — addresses a need for "some jam," Shero said.

The moves yesterday also made winger Miroslav Satan expendable.

Satan cleared waivers at noon and was assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL — a procedural move that allows the Penguins to remove his remaining salary from the salary cap.

Within about $1.5 million of the $56.7 million cap after acquiring Kunitz, the Penguins have no space to keep Satan, Guerin and Adams, 31.

Satan, 34, scored 17 goals in 65 games with the Penguins. He signed a one-year contract worth $3.5 million in July — presumably to play with Crosby, though he spent most of the past four months on a checking line.

"We had a harder time getting him on the top two lines, even with (Bylsma) coming in — and he had a good relationship with (Satan)," Shero said. "He's been almost a rover ... he's kind of moved around.

"He's not a fourth-line guy. He needs to play higher. Picking up Kunitz and Guerin, that makes it difficult here."

New Penguins

• Bill Guerin

Age: 38

Born: Wilbraham, Mass.

College: Boston College, 2 years

Height: 6-2

Weight: 220

Position: RW

Shoots: Right

Career highlights: Drafted in 1989 in the first round (fifth overall) by the New Jersey Devils. ... Penguins are his eighth NHL team, following Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Devils and New York Islanders. ... Won a Stanley Cup with Devils in 2005, the World Cup in 1996 and a silver medal for the United States in the 2002 Olympics. ... Scored career-high 41 goals with Bruins in 2001-02. ... Had career-high 69 points with Stars in 2003-04.

Trib take: He won't score much more than re-assigned RW Miroslav Satan, but Guerin will make his presence felt in the corners and inside dressing room.

• Craig Adams

Age: 31

Born: Seria, Brunei

College: Harvard, 1 year

Height: 6-0

Weight: 200

Position: RW

Shoots: Right

Career highlights : Although born overseas, grew up in Calgary, where he learned to play hockey. ... Was the last player drafted by the Hartford Whalers, going in the ninth round of the 1996 draft. ... Made his debut in 2000-01 with the relocated Carolina Hurricanes. ... Set career highs in goals (10) and points (21) with the Hurricanes in 2005-06 when they won the Stanley Cup. ... Was traded to the Blackhawks on Jan. 17, 2008.

Trib take: He'll do anything interim coach Dan Bylsma asks, giving the Penguins another rugged fourth-line presence to go with RW Eric Godard.

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