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Penguins ship Zbynek Michalek to Coyotes, free up more cap space

Sean Leahy
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PITTSBURGH -- It's not unusual for the NHL Draft's host team to make a splash or two in front of its home fans. During Round 1 on Friday night, GM Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins made waves.

Just after the Los Angeles Kings made the final pick of the first round, the Penguins finalized their second trade of the night sending defenseman Zbynek Michalek to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Harrison Ruopp, goaltender Marc Cheverie and the No. 81 pick this year.

Michalek, who waived his limited no-trade clause in order for the deal to happen, spent five seasons with the Coyotes before signing with the Penguins as a free agent in 2010.

"With the Zbynek Michalek deal, he came here to try to win a Stanley Cup," said Shero. "But to go back to Phoenix, which was a really good fit for him before, it's a good situation for him and his family."

Earlier in the evening the Penguins dealt Jordan Staal to Carolina for Brandon Sutter, prospect Brian Dumoulin and the No. 8 pick, which turned out to be defenseman Derrick Pouliot.

Between the two deals the Penguins cleared $6 million in cap space giving them just under $15 million in room to spend this summer (pending any CBA changes).

"We've got some younger defensemen coming. We cleared some cap space with the Staal trade and the Michalek trade, and we'll see where that's going to lead us," Shero said.

With money to spend and the pressure of being a Stanley Cup contender for yet another year, will this all lead to heavy courting of pending unrestricted free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, or maybe even Bobby Ryan?

Right now, Shero knows what he needs to do to improve the Penguins for next season and isn't wasting any time do so.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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