The weekend could determine the Pittsburgh Penguins roster composition and provide Penguins GM and president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas his best chance to complete the Penguins’ trade for Erik Karlsson. NHL trade rumors have swirled for weeks before recently cooling, but Saturday and Sunday might force Dubas’ decision.
Will the Penguins pursue a trade, specifically for San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson, and in the process, move enough salary to get beneath the NHL’s $83.5 million salary cap, or will Dubas be forced to use a buyout, in all probability on Mikael Granlund?
The contract settlement with forward Drew O’Connor on Wednesday started the clock on the final buyout window and, thus, the clock on Dubas’ decision. Beginning Saturday, the Penguins have 48 hours to proceed with a buyout. Dovetailing with Pittsburgh Hockey Analysis, the weekend will be a fork in the road.
On June 1, Dubas stated he “doesn’t like” buyouts and prefers more creative ways to create salary cap space. To avoid that buyout, he must make a trade this weekend, or be confident one is possible. Otherwise, he may feel forced to use the buyout window.
If he fails to make a trade before the buyout window closes, the Penguins could be stuck over the salary cap and forced into a losing deal to be cap compliant.
Currently, the Penguins are about $1.6 million over the salary cap with a 22-player roster. Friday, the Penguins announced Jake Guentzel underwent significant ankle surgery, which will keep him out for at least 12 weeks when he will be re-evaluated. Assuming Guentzel will need additional time to get into game shape, the Penguins can place him on LTIR at the beginning of the season.
But Guentzel will eventually come off LTIR, so that’s only a temporary solution to the Penguins’ cap overage.
Friday, Sportsnet reporter Elliotte Friedman reported multiple insiders have also mentioned this weekend will be pivotal.
“I’ve had a couple of people just say, ‘Keep an eye this weekend. There’s going to be an attempt to see if it can get closed.’ Now, we’ve been here before,” said Friedman on the NHL Network. “I don’t want to be the bringer of false alarms or false panic. Let’s just say (there is) noise on the radar, or sonar, to keep an eye out this weekend.”
Kyle Dubas has completed his general manager search and has named himself general manager.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) August 4, 2023