The Pittsburgh Penguins have made two trades this week designed to ignite their injury-riddled offense.
The problem is, every addition seems to be followed by yet another subtraction.
The Penguins hope to have newly acquired Alex Kovalev in the lineup Friday night as they open a five-game road trip against the Carolina Hurricanes, but they'll be without one of the NHL's most physical defensemen for the next month as Brooks Orpik recovers from a broken finger.
Pittsburgh (36-20-6) has been doing its best to cope without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and seven other injured forwards, and this week general manager Ray Shero gave his front line a personnel boost.
Shero traded defenseman Alex Goligoski to Dallas for forward James Neal and defenseman Matt Niskanen on Monday, but that same day found out defenseman Paul Martin was dealing with an upper-body injury.
Martin missed Monday night's 1-0 loss to Washington and a 3-2 overtime defeat Wednesday against San Jose as Neal and Niskanen made their Penguins debuts.
Shero was busy again Thursday, dealing a conditional draft pick to Ottawa for Kovalev, who scored 149 regular-season goals for Pittsburgh from 1998-2003. Just as the details of that trade were being worked out, the Penguins learned that Orpik had suffered a broken finger in Wednesday's loss.
While Martin could return as early as Saturday at Toronto, Orpik - one of the league leaders in hits - will miss at least four weeks.
"It's been crazy, no question," center Jordan Staal told the Penguins' official website. "... It's just a matter of other guys stepping into bigger roles and playing bigger minutes."
Pittsburgh hopes Kovalev, who turned 38 Thursday, can spark an offense that's scored just 16 goals while dropping seven of nine. He's largely been a disappointment this season, but six of his 14 goals have come in February.
"Without Crosby and Malkin and guys like this in your lineup, I welcome the addition of the skill of Alexei Kovalev,'' Shero said. "You can see what we're missing on the ice with some of these guys, so we're hoping that in the short term here that he'll be energized to play.''
The Penguins may get two other forwards back soon. Rookie Dustin Jeffrey could return Friday, while center Mark Letestu may not be far behind.
Jeffrey and Letestu both scored in the Penguins' 3-2 home win over Carolina last month as Pittsburgh improved to 3-0-0 in the season series.
The Hurricanes (28-24-9) still hold a three-point cushion over Buffalo for the Eastern Conference's eighth playoff spot, though the Sabres have two games in hand.
Carolina isn't exactly establishing itself as a bona fide postseason contender. After opening a four-game homestand with a 3-2 win over Philadelphia last Friday, the Hurricanes lost 4-1 to New Jersey on Saturday and 4-3 in a shootout against the New York Rangers three night later.
Carolina is 7-9-3 in its last 19 games.
"It's frustrating, for sure,'' coach Paul Maurice said.
The Penguins weren't the only team to reacquire some help up front Thursday. Carolina traded center Ryan Carter and a fifth-round pick to Florida for winger Cory Stillman, who had 26 points in the 2006 postseason to help the Hurricanes win the franchise's only Stanley Cup title.
Stillman has just seven goals and 16 assists in 44 games this season, but has 33 points in 21 games versus Pittsburgh since 2003-04 - his most against any opponent.