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Predicting the New Penguins Front Office, and Why



Pittsburgh Penguins GM search, Kyle Dubas, Eric Tulsky,

The Pittsburgh Penguins and ownership group Fenway Sports Group narrowed their search and began second interviews. Their course was set until the shocking twist in Toronto when Maple Leafs’ ownership and president Brendan Shanahan reversed course and dismissed GM Kyle Dubas.

And now the Penguins’ process is making a U-turn talk to Dubas before proceeding.

The Dubas opportunity is perfectly timed for the Penguins. Dubas brings some of the same out-of-the-box thinking on analytics and roster construction that John Chayka brought, but without the industry baggage and distrust. And Dubas had a lot more success.

Dubas would be a perfect leader for the Penguins, but not as GM. After five years in the GM chair, perhaps he’s ready for the additional powers he sought but was denied in Toronto. And perhaps he would be an ideal mentor for a first-time GM with a similar outlook.

If all sides are willing, Dubas would be the right type for president of hockey operations to put forth a course and philosophy.

Dubas would agree with coach Mike Sullivan on at least one point: rebuilding the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and establishing a more competitive farm system. The Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate fell into disrepair this season and was not competitive.

Prospects Filip Hallander and goalie Fillip Lindberg subsequently bolted home to Sweden and Finland, respectively.

Dubas joined Toronto in 2014 as assistant general manager and oversaw the construction of the Toronto Marlies, who won a Calder Cup with him as GM.

Dubas conducted multiple strong drafts, despite picking near the end of the round. The Maple Leafs snagged Rasmus Sandin (2018, 29th overall), Sean Durzi (2018, 52nd overall), Nick Robertson (2019, 53rd overall), and Mathew Knies (2021, 57th overall).

The Penguins could use some help at the draft table. They’ve received just seven games of NHL service from draft picks, dating to 2017. Calen Addison has played 80 NHL games for Minnesota, and he’s the only pick in the last six years to reach double-digits.

On paper, the best pick for GM is Steve Greeley, barely inching ahead of Eric Tulsky, but either would jell with Dubas and his philosophy.

We like Greeley just a bit more than Tulsky for two reasons.

Greeley has overseen several drafts rated A+ over the past four years. While he runs analytics in Dallas, he’s also head of scouting and player development. That’s combining both ends of the spectrum.

Greeley’s drafts in Buffalo included (skipping top overall pick Rasmus Dahlin), Marcus Samuelsson (2018, 32nd overall), and Casey Mittelstadt (2017, 8th overall). There were several more NHL players taken.

Correction: Greeley started with Dallas in January 2022. He was not a part of Dallas’ 2021 Draft. The paragraph naming the 2021 picks has been removed.

Last week, AHL reporter Tony Androckitis reported that chatter from the AHL meetings centered on Penguins coach Mike Sullivan pushing the organization to rebuild the WBS Penguins. Further chatter was that “Sullivan has the hammer with the FSG guys.”

That becomes an interesting tidbit because Greeley comes from the Boston University family and was an assistant coach at Boston under Sullivan friend David Quinn.

Tulsky, the AGM of the Carolina Hurricanes, also would be a solid choice. Perhaps his background is more based in the numbers department, but the Carolina drafts have not been stellar. Only Seth Jarvis, Jack Drury, and goalie Pyotr Kochetkov have made it to the NHL since 2018 (excluding 2018 second-overall pick Andrei Svechnikov).

Dallas has built and rebuilt, quietly using all tools available. Being in that environment gives Greeley a perspective that should fit well with the path upon which the Pittsburgh Penguins are about to embark.

However, there is a buzz around Tulsky. Multiple people recommended him to FSG, and that probably carries a good bit of weight beyond good interviews.

The next step is to figure out Dubas.