Since Ray Shero was hired in 2006, he made a trade at or near the deadline to tweak or shore up the team every year. This year was his first year not making a major or minor transaction. Here are a few of his acquisitions each year:
2007: Gary Roberts & Georges LaRaque
2008: Marian Hossa, Pascal Dupuis, Hal Gill
2009: Craig Adams, Chris Kunitz, Bill Guerin
2010: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jordan Leopold
2011: James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Alexi Kovalev
In each case, Shero gave up draft picks, fringe NHLers, lost prospects, and players from deep positions on the team. By shoring up the defensive prospect pool, Ryan Whitney (Kunitz trade) and Alex Goligoski (Neal trade) became expendable to the Pens, but filled a need on another team. In the case of the Bill Guerin trade, the Islanders were looking to dump salary and get something for a player who was certain to leave as a free agent or retire.
This year, there were no real obvious sellers aside from the Columbus Blue Jackets. That made it a sellers market, inflating prices for rental players. To trade with another contender would require proven NHL assets (you have to give to get). This likely led to Shero making the few offers he did but never making any big strides in executing them.
From our point, the only two players who interested us were Tuomo Ruutu and Hal Gill. Ruutu was re-signed by Carolina, and Nashville gave up more to get Gill two weeks ago than the Pens did to get him in 2008.
Across the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference, no major deals were made. Philly did pick up two defensemen, but neither one of them is a major difference maker. The best move for the Pens is to get Martin and Michalek playing like they did last year, and the past three games point to progress in that department. Adding Crosby to this roster doesn't hurt either.