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Penguins’ Dubas Answers Guentzel, Why Pens Don’t Rebuild, Needed Changes



Pittsburgh Penguins trade for Erik Karlsson, Kyle Dubas explained the process

Former Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jake Guentzel was momentarily brusque on Tuesday night regarding his departure, placing the responsibility on the Penguins and, indirectly, president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas for the trade that sent him away to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Wednesday, Dubas did his first local one-on-one interview, appearing on the Mark Madden radio show on the team’s flagship station, 105.9 The X.

Guentzel was traded on March 6 to the Carolina Hurricanes, whom the Penguins beat 4-1 on Tuesday night at PPG Paints Arena. After the game, Guentzel fired a small salvo toward Dubas, “My intention was to stay, but they just thought there was a better direction, to go a different way. And it was out of my hands, so it was not my choice.”

Dubas didn’t fire back but disagreed with Guentzel.

“He’s entitled to his opinion, especially in this market, to give his opinion,” Dubas said. “What I would say is that going into this year, I hoped that everything would go to the most optimistic viewpoint, we would be a contending team, and that would dictate decision-making differently than it did.

“I’m sorry that it ended up being Jake as the one whose contract was up at that time … that’s how he feels about it. Especially right after a game, competitors like Jake are emotional. He’s entitled to feel how he feels, and I don’t take umbrage at all.”

Madden also pressed Dubas on Sidney Crosby’s future, but Dubas largely sidestepped the issue. While saying he believes Crosby will accelerate the retooling with his presence and leadership, the group, including Crosby and his agent Pat Brisson, won’t sit down to discuss a new contract, which would begin on July 1, 2025, until after the season.

Dubas said it’s unanimous that the organization wants Crosby to remain with the Penguins.

Remaking Penguins Roster

Dubas took a question from Madden about team speed, or finding a Plan B, a step further and not only addressed the Penguins’ young players in the NHL lineup but what types of qualities he’d like to add to the roster.

A few players may want to take note.

“The change in the last stretch as our younger guys have come up is that there’s more youthful exuberance, and they’ve got more speed. It’s different. Last night, the group in the fourth line with Poulin, Gruden, and Puljujarvi gave our team a big boost. They gave our team a lot. (Also,) St. Ivany on the back end, those guys have great energy, they’re trying to prove themselves, and they’re very urgent in ways they go about their day-to-day.”

“The areas that I want to look at and want to continue to address in development, trade, and free agency is: increase our talent throughout the lineup in whatever you want to call it — team toughness, tenacity, competitiveness, those types of things have to move more to the forefront as we continue on.”


Since the Penguins have a 98.7% chance of missing the playoffs, according to MoneyPuck, and would need a small miracle to get to the postseason, it’s fair to bring up the specter of changes this offseason.

Dubas again backed coach Mike Sullivan in many of the same terms he has in the past; notably, if the Penguins didn’t have Sullivan, they’d be looking for someone just like Sullivan.

However, he did hint at underlying changes beyond just the roster.

“I think we’ll get through the season and evaluate all of that. You’re talking about super competitive people, Sully and myself. If we sit here on April 17 and we haven’t advantage of the opportunity that lies ahead of us over the window of the next 21 days or three weeks, the players and Sully are too intelligent to think that we can do the same thing again next year in the exact same way can get a different result.”

Dubas said some of the changes will be obvious, such as trades and system changes, and he opened the door to making changes behind the scenes to help the organization move forward and for young players to improve.

The Penguins’ first-year president of hockey operations/GM said answers beyond that wouldn’t be honest because the team hasn’t completed a review without the heat of the season.

Blow it Up?

The million-dollar question. Many fans have stridently expressed a desire or belief the Penguins should have held a fire sale, expunging its roster of veterans, perhaps including members of the core three, such as Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang.

So, why didn’t Dubas take a figurative wrecking ball to the roster and coach staff to start over?

“It’s not something that I think about. There could come a time when that hits you in the face, but my view of it (is) rather than focus on that, it’s trying to focus on ‘how can we accomplish everything that we need in the short run and the long run?’ Though I don’t push back on the notion that it’s a tall order (to win and rebuild simultaneously),” said Dubas. “So I don’t hide from that or think it’s incorrect, but my hope is that we don’t get to that point (of a full-scale rebuild).

“There are certainly some examples around the league that when you get to that point, you get some good fortune in certain draft years, but there are more examples of if you go down that path, you can wander in the abyss for quite a while, and that’s not what anybody wants.”

You can listen for the full interview and first hour of the Mark Madden Show here: