Now that we've all settled in with the news, I thought it was time to examine Ray Shero's tenure as Pittsburgh GM from a broad perspective.
Pros: Unafraid to make the big trade.
Shero made a huge splash to get Marian Hossa in 2008, figuring his team was ready to make a run, and weirdly he wasn't wrong. Shero dealt Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito (Pittsburgh's 1st round pick in 2007) and their 1st round pick in 2008 for Hossa and Pascal Dupuis. Had he managed to re-sign Hossa in Pittsburgh, that could've been a special team - Hossa's one of the best players in the league and a spectacularly underrated talent. It shouldn't be lost that Pascal Dupuis has been a solid contributor in Pittsburgh for many years after that trade, and on a cheap contract (at least at first - Dupuis was resigned to a 3 year 4.2M deal and produced 47 goals over those 3 seasons.
Trading Jordan Staal away, while a move I'm not in love with, has prepared the Penguins for at least a decent future.
Pros: Understands something about player value
Shero moved Ryan Whitney and Alex Goligoski for large returns - both Whitney and Goligoski were overvalued because of their point totals but neither is a top pairing defenseman. He got great returns on each, especially Goligoski - Niskanen turned out to be as good as Goligoski and then there was James Neal.
Signing Petr Sykora and Miroslav Satan both were solid moves.
Pros: Has been successful in not allowing players to walk
Kris Letang was threatened with a trade and signed a contract to stay in Pittsburgh. Jordan Staal didn't and was traded. Now that the Devils don't really have any valuable players besides Larsson who are close to UFA, it doesn't matter, but at least this will quiet one section of the fanbase.
Cons: Doesn't understand goaltending
Signed Marc-Andre Fleury to a massive 6 year/30M deal after his run to the Cup Finals in 2008 - Fleury had had a good season and great playoff but up to that point had been an average goalie. In fairness he did try to correct this by signing Tomas Vokoun but Vokoun had health issues.
Cons: Has not had a significant contribution from a UDFA
This one's hard to pin on him, but the Penguins just haven't found a guy like this, and this has been the Devils' bread-and-butter for a very long time. They found Mark Letestu and then treated him like found money, trading him to Columbus for a 4th round pick inexplicably. Ben Lovejoy was also undrafted and became a 3rd pairing D there. Deryk Engelland was drafted but went unsigned by the Devils, and Pittsburgh eventually found a role for him.
Cons: Was unable to beef up Penguins bottom six
In 2009, the Penguins claimed Craig Adams off waivers from Chicago. I wouldn't be surprised if Craig Adams is the longest-tenured player in the NHL with one team who acquired him via waivers - SOMEHOW he was still a Pittsburgh Penguin 6 years later. Not even counting this season, Craig Adams ranked last in points/60 among forwards with 3000 minutes over that time. Second to him was Tanner Glass, someone who also spent considerable time in Pittsburgh. His territorial play is slightly better than that, but it's still not great. Brandon Sutter has also been pretty awful as a 3rd line center, something that often gets glossed over. Regardless, this is a huge issue for the Devils because they have bottom six issues and lots of young players who could maybe fill in on bottom 6 roles, and they're simply not going to have an above-average top 6 forwards probably ever unless they totally collapse this season.
Cons: Overvalues stay at home D men
Deryk Engelland, Douglas Murray, Hal Gill, Zbynek Michalek, Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi. This is a problem with the rest of the NHL, but trading 2 2nd round picks for Doug Murray even in a wildly overvalued trade market is a terrible trade. I'm becoming more convinced that most of these guys just cannot have a role for you at all - with how little penalties are being called these days, their role on the PK is diminishing, and they just destroy offense 5 on 5. I fully expect the Devils to end up with a bag of sh!t like Tim Gleason next season.
Cons: Traded away lots of draft picks
The Penguins didn't have a pick in the first 3 rounds in 2008. They didn't have a 2nd round pick in 2010 or 2014. They also didn't have a 1st in 2013. They had 2 1sts in 2012 but they sure weren't able to give their organization a shot to draft a lot of talent. In fairness, Shero basically started from scratch in 2006 - yes he had Crosby and Malkin but the Penguins had almost no players in their prime or close and so it's tough to have excess talent in that situation, talent that can be dealt for draft picks.
Cons: Drafts focused almost exclusively in North America
I've said before that I don't like evaluating general managers based on drafts, but in the drafts overseen by Shero - 2006 to 2013 - the Penguins drafted 5 players who were playing outside North America at the time. It's really hard to beat the market on junior hockey players, and so I don't like that kind of organizational blindness.