It's part of the hockey culture to instantly decide on winners and losers at the trade deadline, although the smart money tends to wait a lot longer to get a true read on what happened.
Even so, it is becoming clear that those who described the Pittsburgh Penguins as this year's big winners were right on the mark. The Penguins made a couple of last minute deals -- one of them a blockbuster than landed star forward Marian Hossa and role player Pascal Dupuis from Atlanta for young players and prospects -- and another that brought big defenseman Hal Gill from Toronto for a draft choice.
And all three have made significant contributions to a Penguins team that has won 11 of its 12 playoff games so far and is on the verge of going to the Stanley Cup Finals. Hossa is tied for the team lead with eight goals; Dupuis is a speedster who has been a superb penalty killer and Gill has been a steady and physical force in Pittsburgh's back end.
"A lot of credit goes to (GM) Ray Shero, he did a fantastic job," Penguins coach Michel Therrien said. "Before the trading deadline we had meetings and we were looking for the needs of this hockey team like everyone who was battling to make the playoffs. But he found the right way to make those deals."
Therrien said the impact of the deals were critical for more than what the newcomers have contributed on the ice. He said the moves told the players that the organization believed in them and was willing to do whatever was necessary to win now, not just down the road.
"That was big for a young team," Therrien said. "That was probably the first time they were saying we believe in you guys and you did a great job so far. It definitely brought a lot of confidence to the team."
Especially since they turned out so well.
"Sometimes you know, you could bring in some players that's not the right fit," Therrien said. "But right now those three guys it's just a perfect fit for needs."