Welcome to Penguins Perspectives, a weekly column by KDKA-TV Digital Producer Patrick Damp. Each Monday, Patrick will talk about the week that was, the week to come, what to watch for, and more.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In this column last week, I said the Penguins would be best suited to go in a different direction and find a new general manager.
I stand by that, and after the deadline, it seems clearer they need a younger, more aggressive general manager than what they have.
I'll make sure this part is clear – I do not know who that could be. My pipe dream is that Toronto once again loses in the first round, the Maple Leafs decide to let Kyle Dubas' contract expire, and Fenway Sports Group drops a bag of cash off at his door prior to the draft, but I digress.
What I do know is that the Penguins' flurry of moves at the trade deadline was not so much to improve the team but to rectify mistakes that had been made this past summer.
They also further handicapped a team that had the rare mixture of superstars on affordable deals and a summer with the NHL's most precious resource: salary cap space.
What I said last week still stands, this year is probably not the Penguins' year. However, it would be the most Sidney Crosby Penguins move if as we all begin to throw dirt on them, they rise from the dead and go on a run. Being that it's likey not the Penguins' year with the eastern conference becoming an arms race of epic proportions, letting this year play out and hitting a retool button this summer was probably the best decision.
That's not what Ron Hextall decided to do.
Now, there is something to be said for recognizing mistakes and working to fix them. Getting the contracts of Kasperi Kapanen and Brock McGinn off the books is both good and smart.
What isn't both good and smart is signing them in the first place. Kapanen and McGinn were massively overpaid in proportion to what they provided to the team.
The Blues were kind enough to take Kapanen's contract off of the Penguins' hands and Anaheim had them take on Dmitry Kulikov in order to take McGinn's contract.
That's nearly $6 million off of the salary cap alone, which would've taken them to nearly $30 million in space this offseason with not many big pieces needing to be re-signed outside of Zucker and possibly Jarry.
Instead, just days earlier, a trade was made to acquire Mikael Granlund, a winger worth $5 million against the salary cap for the next two seasons after this.
He's a perfectly fine winger but with no salary retained from Nashville and the idea clearly being that he can be a stabilizing force for Jeff Carter, who also makes north of $3 million for another season, it's a salary cap quagmire of his own making.
While I do think that Hextall acknowledged he needed to upgrade his roster, he seemed once again unwilling to part with high draft picks to get truly impactful pieces such as Jakob Chychrun or Max Domi, both of which went for pennies on the dollar given the value they bring to two sub-par teams in Arizona and Chicago, respectively.
I wrote about it in the inaugural Penguins Perspectives column that we've been so very spoiled as Penguins fans for the past 20 years (and really since the mid-80s, if we're being completely honest) but that we should enjoy the ride while it lasts.
Fenway Sports Group would be wise to think about that.
Maybe the fall for Crosby, Malkin, and Letang comes fast. Maybe it comes gradually and in a few years, they just don't have it anymore.
We'll never know until we know.
What we do know is that when those three, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, and Rickard Rakell are still playing their hearts out for a top-tier coach in Mike Sullivan, playing it safe is not how the franchise will win its sixth Stanley Cup.
Admitting mistakes is wise.
Fenway Sports Group should take note.
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