Crosby practices, has “extensive on-ice time” with Penguins

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Sidney Crosby participated in his most thorough practice with Penguins teammates in two-and-a-half months on Thursday, though the club remains mum on when No. 87 will return to action.

“He was out there with our team for the entire practice,” said Pittsburgh head coach Dan Bylsma. “Although he did not participate in the contact drills that we did have. We’ll see how he progresses and where he’s at in terms of getting on the ice. Sometimes it is dictated on if it’s an optional [practice] or how many people will be out there.”

While reporting Crosby’s practice routine might seem like overkill (even though this site has been dubbed “ProCrosbyTalk” on various occasions), it’s an important development with Monday’s trade deadline looming.

Pens GM Ray Shero has made a habit of acquiring forwards at the trade deadline — Alexei Kovalev last year, Alexei Ponikarovsky in 2010, Bill Guerin in 2009, Pascal Dupuis/Marian Hossa in 2008 — and many assume a similar move this year depends on Crosby’s health and availability.

According to Capgeek, the Penguins have roughly $10 million in available space at the deadline, which could net them a pretty compelling rental player, like any number of the impending UFAs (ie: Ales Hemsky, Brad Boyes, Paul Gaustad or Mike Knuble.)