By most reputable accounts, NHL labor talks have reached a state of stagnation. While a few folks privy to the collective bargaining negotiations are optimistic, most concede there will be games missed once October rolls around.
But you’ll have to excuse NHL general managers if they don’t join the speculation about when the league will get it revved up for the 2012-13 season. With the timing of CBA resolution anyone’s guess, the 30 men in charge of building teams have to be ready for the curtain to rise at any time.
Some, like Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher, dove into the annual free agent frenzy like usual. Ironically enough, Fletcher’s old boss Ray Shero is exploring the opposite end of the eagerness spectrum.
Obviously, the motivation for Fletcher and the Wild to land a huge prize (or two) was much greater than for an established contender like the Penguins to do so.
Sure, Shero would’ve loved to find a way to add the skill and intensity of Zach Parise or the stabilizing blue line presence of Ryan Suter, but the Pens remain among the Stanley Cup favorites even if Tomas Vokoun is their highest-profile signing of the summer.
Staying conservative is a nice luxury to have, especially when scarcity drives the price of Shane Doan much higher than most teams would be remotely comfortable with.
All of which isn’t to say Shero’s offseason plan centered around recruiting Benn Ferriero and re-upping with Eric Tangradi. The draft weekend trades of Jordan Staal and Zybnek Michalek had other motivations beyond money, but it’s impossible to ignore the financial freedom they quickly generated.
As we know, it wasn’t meant to be for the Penguins to pull in Parise, Suter, et al. The restraint Shero displayed may end up overshadowing any disappointment he may have felt over the last three months, especially if the salary cap structure is drastically different under the new CBA.
And as we also know, Shero isn’t shy about making a daring in-season trade (or two) to add talent. On top of that, it’s certain the money will be available for the Penguins to push to limit of whatever the spending restrictions will be.
It’s become trite for Penguins fans to recite “In Shero We Trust” in times of uncertainty. But just because it’s a cliche doesn’t mean it doesn’t have merit.