|2008 - Bill Guerin||78||21||27||48||-12||81||5||0||4||1||226||9.3|
For veteran Bill Guerin Christmas came about two months late. Guerin, then the captain of the Islanders, was sent away from the team whie they tried to work out a trade. Pittsburgh stepped to the plate with a conditional draft pick (a 5th rounder if the Penguins didn't make the playoffs, a 4th if the Pens did make the playoffs and a maximum of a 3rd round pick if the Pens won a round). I think that's relevant to look back on, because at the trade deadline it wasn't even certain that Pittsburgh would make the playoffs and they ended up winning the whole thing.
So for the 90th overall pick in the draft (assuming the Islanders don't get the 3rd rounder that Pittsburgh got for Gary Roberts and Ryan Malone's rights) the Penguins got 17 regular season games, 5 goals, 7 assists and 24 playoff games with 7 goals and 8 assists. Stats only say so much as the 38 year old outspoken veteran also brought a sense of leadership and a strong voice for the young Penguins inside the lockeroom. The Guerin acquistion will go down along side the Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson to the Pens in 1991 deal in the lore that spurred Pittsburgh to Stanley Cups.
But what goes on from here? Guerin earned a salary of $4,500,000 this season and the Penguins, already at the salary cap, are giving big raises to Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal for next season. Guerin is on record as being very vocal about wanting to play at least next year. Billy G has stated his affection for playing in Pittsburgh, but renewing a contract is obviously not a concern of his at the moment. That hasn't stopped the cheerleading (led by Malkin at the parade: "One more year for Billy....NO....Make that two more") but it remains to be seen.
If Guerin is willing to accept a reduced salary he's the ideal fit for Pittsburgh. Even though he's advanced in age, Coach Dan Bylsma did a good job of managing the vet's ice-time; Guerin averaged 17:01 in the playoffs and 16:40 in the regular season. He's not going to be able to play 20+ minutes a night every night like Malkin and his linemate Sidney Crosby, but the beauty is he won't have to. If the Pens keep playing him about 12-13 minutes even strength and a couple of power-play minutes he ought to have enough in the tank all year and the team ought to get the reasonable statistical output that some of Crosby's previous wingers (like Pascal Dupuis and Colby Armstrong) couldn't provide.
Guerin's made a ton of money in his NHL career, so padding his wallet doesn't have to be his primary concern. Still, Guerin's played on eight different teams in his well traveled career -- including five since the lockout -- so switching things up is nothing new or unexpected for him.
Now it's decision time, probably an easy one here on Pensburgh since all signs should point to bringing Guerin back. But with three top six wingers to fill and not much salary room to do so, GM Ray Shero's going to have some tough decisions to make about Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko and Petr Sykora. It's not a stretch to think only one of those three will be back. So I'm making the poll a little tricky: