Ray Shero assumed the General Manager role of the Penguins on May 25, 2006. Fast-forward almost five years later and you'll find that Shero hasn't really changed his way of doing things. One of his greatest traits would have to be the identification of talent by him and his scouts. This knack for finding players that fit and are able to fill the needs of the team has been shown countless times. From Marian Hossa to Bill Guerin to Craig Adams; when the Penguins need a player, Shero goes out and gets him.
Like most seasons, the Penguins are in the mix of top teams in their conference come trade deadline time. The team will be in a comfortable position, but would need that boost. The always pro-active man would pull the trigger on a deal that would down the road pay dividends for the team; this best illustrated by a 2009 Cup championship.
However, this season has the organization between a rock and a hard place. A remarkable winning streak has been sandwiched between stretches of injury and inconsistent play. At the moment injuries are the most glaring issue. Captain Sidney Crosby and superstar Evgeni Malkin are some of the many players on the sidelines, major ones at that. While Malkin being done is saddening, it is at least a certain. On the other hand, the return of Crosby is undetermined. This is where things become tricky for Shero. Should he gamble on the return of Crosby and an ensuing playoff run; or should he be conservative and think of next season?
The long-term injury of Malkin frees up much needed cap to bring some useful bodies for a playoff run. However, here is where the status of Crosby comes into play. Just how much should Shero go after, and likewise, just how much should he give up?
One should look at the bigger picture before making such a bold decision. Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, and Boston are all strong teams that have already bolstered their respective rosters. This begs the question; are the Penguins, with Crosby in the lineup, better than those teams? This is without thinking of Washington, New York, Montreal, and Carolina; all teams with worse records, yet could still present a challenge. The window of opportunity, while still there for them, is not as open as it has been in years past.
If you were Ray Shero, what would you do?