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Why Penguins’ Full-Time GM Might Share Power With Dubas



Jason Spezza

The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to name a full-time general manager sometime next month.

Or, at least, to give that title to someone.

Whether the next GM will have the level of authority that generally goes with the position remains to be seen.

Oh, it’s entirely possible that whoever gets the job will have the same powers as most, if not all, of the NHL’s 31 other GMs.

But it’s also reasonable to wonder if Kyle Dubas, the Penguins’ new president of hockey operations who is coming off a five-year stint as GM in Toronto, will be more involved in GM-level decisions than people in similar positions with other clubs.

When GM Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke were fired April 14, Fenway Sports Group officials said they planned to explore options for how the front office would be structured.

There were no details on that plan, or what the decision-making hierarchy will look like, revealed at the press conference introducing Dubas as Burke’s successor.

What was made known then was that Dubas will serve as the Penguins’ interim GM for the next month or so, during which time the NHL Draft and free agency will play out.

There’s no question that he’s quite capable of handling those duties, as well as the ones that go with the position for which he was hired; Dubas is young (37), energetic, and based on an informal sampling of team executives from around the league, well-regarded for his work with the Maple Leafs.

One said Dubas “will do a good job” with the Penguins. Another volunteered that “Kyle and (coach Mike Sullivan) will be great partners. They will have success together.”

Although Dubas was chosen to be president of hockey operations, before being named to that role, he had been regarded — outside the organization, anyway — primarily as a candidate for the GM position.

There were no fewer than three current assistant GMs, all of whom are fairly accomplished, in contention for the GM job if Dubas had declined to accept the Pittsburgh Penguins’ offer.

All three — Mathieu Darche (Tampa Bay), Jason Botterill (Seattle) and Steve Greeley (Dallas) — had gone through multiple interviews with FSG officials, so they certainly seemed to have passed muster with the search committee.

There’s not much reason to question whether they could have executed the GM’s duties effectively, but Dubas declined to hire any of them, saying that he would take on the position on a short-term basis, and that other clubs might be reluctant to give people under contract to them permission to speak with them with the Penguins at such a busy time of year.

That hurdle obviously had been cleared much earlier with Darche, Botterill and Greeley — but not with anyone from Dubas’ former employer.

Which is why it’s conceivable that Maple Leafs assistant GM Brandon Pridham, who worked with Dubas and still has that job under Brad Treliving, will get a serious look to be the next GM here this summer.

He has deep roots in the game, dating to a stint in NHL Central Scouting, and reportedly was a candidate for the GM position in Calgary that ultimately went to Craig Conroy.

Because he and Dubas were a team in Toronto, it’s not a stretch to think that Pridham would be more amenable to sharing what traditionally is a GM’s power with him than someone coming in from another organization might be.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also need an assistant GM — remember, Chris Pryor was fired with Hextall and Burke — and it won’t be a shock if longtime NHL center Jason Spezza (pictured above) contends for that spot.

He was a special assistant to Dubas during the 2022-23 campaign and resigned as soon as the Maple Leafs fired Dubas a little more than two weeks ago. That’s about as conspicuous a display of loyalty as an individual can make and certainly seems like it could translate to consideration for some job with the Penguins.