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Penguins’ Dubas ‘Urgently’ Trying to Acquire Draft Picks; Reveals Rebuild Strategy

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

The Pittsburgh Penguins are trying to acquire more draft picks.

Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas didn’t mince words regarding the Penguins’ targets on the NHL trade market: Draft picks and lots of them.

Dubas spoke at the NHL combine to NHL.com Saturday.

“The major focus for us is on right now acquiring as many young players, as many prospects, and as many draft picks as we can to try to infuse the team with really good young talent and then have that stocked up for the future as well and attempt to get us back into contention as quickly as we can,” Dubas said.

The attempt to acquire more picks sheds more light upon Dubas’s strategy to balance the final years of Sidney Crosby’s career and the team’s need to plan for the future. Despite what should have been a successful roster, the 2023-24 Penguins missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season. Despite analytics that showed the Penguins should have been in the top half of teams in the league, they were well outside the playoff race until a frantic push in the final weeks of the season.

Dubas began the process with the Jake Guentzel trade before the NHL trade deadline in March. The Penguins acquired not only NHL regular Michael Bunting but three prospects and a second-round pick.

The reason for the desperate push for draft picks isn’t exclusively to facilitate a rebuild but a matter of continuing organizational culture and faster prospect integration.

“I think the thing that I’ve really learned in the year is that we really have to do everything we can as urgently as possible to infuse the organization with really high-quality younger players and give ourselves a chance to add that by adding draft picks, adding prospects in any chance we can get,” Dubas said to NHL.com. “Because if we can do that, while those players are still playing, that standard (Crosby), (Evgeni Malkin), Kris Letang, Erik Karlsson, Bryan Rust set–that just helps young players come in and get up to speed quicker.”

Dubas snagged Vasily Ponomarev, Villie Koivunen, and Cruz Lucius. Ponomarev reported to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins after the trade but suffered a season-ending injury just four games later. He made his NHL debut earlier last season, playing two games with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Koivunen, 21, finished his season in the Finish Elite League and debuted with the WBS Penguins in their first-round playoff series against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. WBS was swept in two games, denying the Penguins prospect more opportunity to play with the organization.

Read More: Two Penguins Prospects Soon Ready, One is Not 

Lucius is still enrolled in college and has transferred from the University of Wisconsin to Arizona State.

The goal is to add the young players and picks and allow them to be influenced by Crosby and the Penguins’ core. This is also how Dubas believes the Penguins can retool on the fly.

“We’re trying to strike that balance of not just focusing just on draft capital or just on … younger players, but on trying to find that mix in everything we go through.”

The Penguins are currently without a first-round draft pick, having spent it in the Erik Karlsson trade. After the Guentzel trade, the Penguins have two second-round picks, their own (46th overall) and the Philadelphia Flyers’ pick (44th overall), as well as a fourth, sixth, and two seventh-round selections.

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Brian X
Brian X
11 days ago

In other words, a rebuild with “the core” to mentor the young players. The window is closed.

Irish Protection
Irish Protection
11 days ago
Reply to  Brian X

Amen, stupidity is the only asset Dubas has. This organization is a disgrace. The rebuild is a couple years to late. Malkin, Letang should have never been resigned. Want Pittsburgh’s Vinny Trockek signed. Then the stupid acquisition of a old soft expensive Dman. Keeping the cancer behind the bench that lets Crosby and his girlfriends run the team. I’d trade everyone he could for any draft picks. Then bring in a real GM that can evaluate talent. Going to get worse. Figure skaters.

Ben
Ben
11 days ago

Dude get a hobby or something seriously lol

Penguinfan
Penguinfan
10 days ago

Meh we’ve been spoiled for most of Sid’s career. I don’t mind trusting KD to try and make things better. If it makes me foolishly optimistic so be it. But I rather enjoy the last years of players that brought success than mope in misery. Hopefully KD can get the team younger and better. I’ll be a Pens fan through the good and bad

Vittorio Di Stazio Jr
Vittorio Di Stazio Jr
10 days ago

Trocheck is not a No.2 Center. He’s a No.3 Center masquerading as a 2. I take Malkin any day of the week over Trocheck. Don’t get me wrong Trocheck is good but ask yourself this question how many teams would make Trocheck there No.2 Center? The 2 teams in the Cup Final would never have him as there 2. Dallas, Colorado, Vegas, TB, Toronto would also make Trocheck a 3. Trocheck is not a scorer, he’s a good 2 way Forward but as a Centerman either on the 1st or 2nd Line your main job is scoring.

King Penguin
King Penguin
10 days ago

You’re right about Malkin and Letang, but Duby had no choice but to re-sign them. It was part of the agreement for his employment here. As for Karlsson, his trade allowed Duby to dump several bad contracts that he inherited. EK65 had a solid season (82/24:16/56/+4), especially when you consider that the system wasn’t conducive to his talent level. If Petry had been retained instead, the team would have been far worse off financially and in the standings.

Last edited 10 days ago by King Penguin
Dan N
Dan N
11 days ago

And whom exactly do they trade to attract premium picks

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
11 days ago
Reply to  Dan N

Never know who will turn out as far as draft picks. Getting any picks at all will help and its really the only way to build the future.

Rob
Rob
10 days ago
Reply to  Dan N

Pens could also obtain draft picks by absorbing other teams bad contracts – let’s hope this is not part of the strategy…

Robert Shoemaker
Robert Shoemaker
10 days ago
Reply to  Rob

The penguins have a couple bad contracts already, so i agree.

Sam
Sam
11 days ago

Trade candidates for draft picks: Jarry, POJ, Pettersson, Rackell, Smith. All of them are fungible commodities. Pettersson in particular could bring a nice haul of a younger player and a high draft pick. Jarry as well. This should be an exciting 3 weeks.

Deppert
Deppert
10 days ago
Reply to  Sam

Pettersson is the only one that gets anything special, which is why I think he has to be dealt.

Vittorio Di Stazio Jr
Vittorio Di Stazio Jr
10 days ago
Reply to  Sam

No to Rakell, Jarry and Pettersson. All 3 are needed for the team to compete. So unless your getting High End talent in return and that means a Top 4 D-Man and a Top 6 Winger those 3 guys are not going anywhere. Smith and POJ sure, your more likely to get minor assets in return but do it anyway.

Uros
Uros
10 days ago

Crosby wants to play mentor without competing? That’s what he’s signing up for? After the season he had? I’d rather go somewhere else until my legs give out and then come back to mentoring. I mean, I can’t think of a player on our team that would get us picks beyond 2nd or 3rd round. In any case, rushing head first into this does not seem like a good strategy. As a matter of fact, it’s a proven disaster when you rush things, be it the moves that our GMs made to deplete the talent pool and leave it barren,… Read more »

Last edited 10 days ago by Uros
DaGama
DaGama
10 days ago

Okay, Dan, now that Dubas has seemingly laid out his strategy, please speculate on how he will go about infusing the team with as many young players, as many prospects, and as many draft picks as he can. Thanks in advance.