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Penguins Q&A #2: Overcrowded Crease, Salary Cap Gymnastics



Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Tristan Jarry, NHL Trade rumors

The Pittsburgh Penguins and president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas are now eight days from the peak of the Erik Karlsson talk, yet it has not subsided. Our Pittsburgh Hockey Now Q&A had so many submissions we’re taking a second bite at the apple.

The Karlsson trade hasn’t gone down, and it certainly is not imminent, which means Dubas’s focus will be on other Penguins trades, changes, or moves ahead of the 2023-24 NHL season.

According to our friends at, the Penguins have 22 players on the NHL roster and are $1.5 million over the salary cap. The overage includes three goalies, so the real cap situation is about $500,000 over the cap with 20 spots, including only six defensemen.

Curiously, Dubas claimed the Penguins’ internal projects put them under the cap. Exactly how that would come to be is a matter of conjecture.

Pittsburgh Penguins Q&A:

The Penguins could use a little more offense in the bottom six. They could also upgrade the defense in several different ways. Despite the statistics which posited the Penguins had an offensively engaged blue line in the second half of the season, the Penguins’ blue line was average. The near-league-leading number of blown leads is a testament to many things, including the Penguins defenseman.

The Penguins trade chatter surrounding Karlsson and Matt Grzelcyck indicates Dubas is looking to add more authentic offense and speed to the defensive corps. Dubas has yet to mislead us, so we’ll take him at face value that Jeff Petry is “a major part” of next season.

By process of elimination, unless a good deal comes along that includes Petry, circle P.O Joseph, Marcus Pettersson, and Jan Rutta as possible sacrifices. Pettersson’s and Rutta’s salaries make them more advantageous to deal.

If I had to guess, if–IF–there is a significant trade, I’d put my chips there.

I think a trade is necessary. After they demote Alex Nedeljkovic to the WBS Penguins, they need to find another 500k and another million or so to sign Drew O’Connor.

I wonder if O’Connor will be packaged in a deal because his World Championship performance, combined with his power forward awakening later last season, could make him attractive.

Bear in mind, Dubas did not say he would not buy out Mikael Granlund, he said he doesn’t like buyouts, and they are a last resort. Dubas could work all month and then use  O’Connor’s arbitration for the second buyout window if Dubas feels he has no other options.

Pittsburgh is a small town, and it seems to be no secret that Jeff Carter has bought a home here, so he would have no incentive to accept a trade.

The options are limited. I don’t think Bryan Rust is on the trade block, nor do I think it’s likely Jake Guentzel is part of a trade.

No, I don’t. However, I believe Dubas views such an acquisition as a major step forward for the roster that would make them contenders for several more years.

I think Dubas would do well to continue the slow path, but he’s a pretty sharp guy. This has been intriguing, to say the least.

Nedeljkovic will get a chance to compete. I think that’s the point for him in camp — DeSmith has started poorly in each of the last two seasons. Making DeSmith uncomfortable isn’t a bad thing, and I think he’s a better goalie.

That might not get such great reviews on AirBnB, eh?

In seriousness, Pittsburgh Hockey Now will be traveling as much as possible this upcoming season, but I’ll be honest, we’re also going to watch our pennies. We noticed you didn’t really care about some of the trips. For example, that Minnesota-Winnipeg-Chicago trip cost a couple of thousand dollars (and risked my life, but that part was fun), though it didn’t help our bottom line. We’ve done well to avoid shedding staff, and our Steelers staff is growing. However, as you’ve seen with our competition, both local and national, revenues are decreasing in our industry.

We’ll do our best to raise revenues further and be at 82, maybe you’ll help us out, and maybe we’ll do about 70.

But no cuddling with dogs.