The 2022-23 season is one the Pittsburgh Penguins would quite overlook. It was filled with accidents and disappointing losses, and it marked the top of a 16-year playoff streak. They entered the offseason with a grocery listing of to-dos and have someway managed to verify nearly every little thing off the listing. Their first transfer was the firing of former normal supervisor Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke in April. Then on June 1, Fenway Sports Group introduced the hiring of Kyle Dubas as the brand new president of hockey operations. Since then, Dubas has made it his mission to restore the Penguins to their former glory.
Dubas made it clear from the beginning that he not solely supposed to strengthen Pittsburgh’s present group across the core so they may nonetheless compete for a championship, however that he additionally needed to construct for the long run. Undoubtedly, the most important transfer of the Dubas period to date got here a couple of month in the past when the Penguins made a commerce for former San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson.
The Penguins traded a 2024 first-round draft choose in addition to ahead Mikael Granlund and defenseman Jan Rutta to the Sharks. To be certain that the deal was compliant with the wage cap, the Montreal Canadiens had been additionally part of the commerce as they picked up goaltender Casey DeSmith, defenseman Jeff Petry and a 2025 second-round draft choose.
Karlsson is the most effective defenseman in the NHL and a three-time Norris Trophy winner. Last season he performed in 82 video games and scored 25 targets with 76 assists for a complete of 101 factors. Dubas managed to do away with Granlund and Petry who had been each non-factors final season and produce in a high defenseman who may even be an enormous contributor on the facility play.
Even although the Karlsson deal was the most important, it’s not the one transfer Dubas has made this summer season. Less than a month after being employed, he made a commerce with the Vegas Golden Knights to purchase ahead Reilly Smith in alternate for a 2024 third-round draft choose. Smith is a particularly versatile participant who may even have the ability to contribute on particular groups.
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It isn’t any secret that depth scoring was virtually non-existent final season. Dubas wasted no time in including two new facilities to the underside six, Lars Eller and Noel Acciari. Eller will most likely heart the third line and though he’s now not the offensive risk he used to be, his two-way sport is powerful and he’s a particular improve from Jeff Carter. Acciari is a skillful puck handler and should not have any points entering into the fourth-line heart place. Rem Pitlick and Matt Nieto had been additionally added to the underside six through the offseason, and ahead Drew O’Connor was signed to a two-year contract.
Karlsson was not the one addition to the blue line this summer season both. Dubas signed Ryan Graves to a six-year deal price a median annual worth (AAV) of $4.5 million. At 6-foot-5, 220 kilos, he needs to be the right complement to Kris Letang on the highest pairing.
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The solely questionable determination made by Dubas to date was the re-signing of goaltender Tristan Jarry to a five-year time period with an AAV of $5.375 million. Jarry battled with accidents for many of final season, and his well being is the most important concern heading into 2023-24. However, the Penguins also signed Alex Nedeljkovic through the offseason as a backup netminder. During the 2020-21 season, he led the league in save proportion and goals-against common with the Carolina Hurricanes. The core is just not getting any youthful and the Penguins are positively in win-now mode, and so they want a dependable goalie in order to achieve success.
Penguins Poised for Success
Dubas got here to Pittsburgh on the good time, and he has put collectively a pleasant physique of labor throughout his first three months on the job. He cleaned all of the errors from the earlier period with no main rebuild. The Penguins are heading into this season as a playoff group at minimal, and they’re proper on the bubble of rivalry. If the upgraded backside six can rating targets and if Jarry can keep wholesome, the Penguins may be the darkish horse in the Metro.