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Counterpoint: Kyle Dubas Picked the Right GM, Here’s Why



Pittsburgh Penguins trade, kyle dubas, Penguins trade talk

Sometimes the situations present themselves with timing so perfect they crystalize the argument before it gets made. Such would be the case with the new Pittsburgh Penguins GM, also the president of hockey operations, Kyle Dubas.

Friday, colleague Dave Molinari opined that it was indeed very risky for Dubas to skip the GM hiring process and name himself to the position.

Read: Double Duty GM Risky for Penguins, Dubas.

The counter-argument is being illustrated this weekend.

Is there anyone better than Dubas to handle the Penguins’ trade discussions and the presumed Mikael Granlund buyout decision?

Perhaps mine was the minority feeling from the start that Dubas would claim both titles. As one league source recently said, “This guy is good at what he does.”

The next several weeks could shape or reshape the Penguins team with the earth-moving Erik Karlsson trade. Or another trade designed to remake the team which missed the 2023 playoffs due to a stunning inability to rise to even the smallest occasions in March or April.

This week, Dubas elevated Trevor Daley and Amanda Kessel to special assistants to the GM. Trusted hand, but front office sophomore Jason Spezza is the assistant GM. Erik Heasley is the new director of minor league and amateur scouting operations, while Andy Saucier is the director of professional personnel.

If there is a criticism, it’s the obvious lack of front-office experience surrounding Dubas. However, across the NHL, there are several similar examples.

Within the Metro Division, Washington Capitals GM Brian McClellan is also a senior vice president, New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello is president and GM, and Don Waddell is president and GM of the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Capitals, Islanders, and Hurricanes have surely been successful organizations over the last five years,  which is the approximate time that those men who inhabit the dual roles.

Dubas brings new ideas and a clear vision to the job. The new direction and qualifications are why he was hired as the president of hockey operations when owners Fenway Sports Group were looking for a GM.

Dubas came late to the Penguins’ party and didn’t have time to interview GM candidates or build a full staff. Because of the late timing, the agreement with the Toronto Maple Leafs, which permitted the Penguins to hire Spezza, also included a prohibition on Spezza’s involvement in the draft and free agency.

Perhaps Dubas will likely add to his front office staff as others become available and he has more time. Perhaps another assistant GM, or two, could create a similarly strong team as when Jim Rutherford had inexperienced Jason Botterill, Bill Guerin, and Tom Fitzgerald as AGMs in 2015-2016.

Looking back, that was a front-office dream team.

Coach Mike Sullivan may get some extra input. That’s probably not a bad idea, either.

If Dubas can handle five years as GM in the scorching spotlight of the Toronto market and build a team worthy of Stanley Cup consideration every season, he can handle Pittsburgh. Without a president with competing ideas or a board of directors in the way, the streamlined decision-making process will play well with what Sullivan described as Dubas’ collaborative approach.

I will hold this opinion even after an Erik Karlsson trade when I will almost certainly find fault.

Despite being just 37 years old, a relative baby by NHL front office standards, Dubas has been working in the game for 20 years and a GM at multiple levels for 12. Everything in life is a risk, but letting Dubas oversee himself is far less risky than something as crazy as, say, letting a former Flyer run the team.