Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas not only is shopping for a general manager to fill out his hockey ops staff, but multiple sources tell Hockey Now that Dubas also is kicking tires on other defensemen.
With the Penguins’ trade talks for San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson stalled, Dubas is shopping the NHL trade market, looking for additional defensemen or a backup plan.
It seems Dubas has an interest in mobile, offensive defensemen. The Penguins’ pursuit of Karlsson was tacitly confirmed by Dubas himself on July 1. However, the Penguins’ situation changed dramatically later in the day when the Dubas filled out his roster with five more free agents after Penguins trade talks reached their crescendo.
Two days later, the Penguins signed formerly heralded defenseman Will Butcher to a two-way contract.
The league source believed Dubas to be shopping for a backup plan if he’s not able to acquire Karlsson, but whether Dubas is moving on from Karlsson or looking for talent to reshape the roster is conjecture.
A Penguins team source confirmed Dubas to be interested in at least one offensive defenseman beyond Karlsson.
Sources indicated one name to keep an eye on is Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, a left-handed puck-mover with a high hockey IQ and quick skates who makes good breakout passes but is only 5-foot-9. It should be noted Bruins GM Don Sweeney last week expressed exasperation with Grzelcyk trade rumors, chiding the Boston media.
That would not preclude Dubas from checking on Grzelcyk or kicking the tires. Grzelcyk, 29, has one year left on a four-year deal with a $3.687 million salary-cap hit. Last season, he had 26 points (4-22-26) in 75 games. He was also a plus-46.
On July 1, Dubas signed 6-foot-5, 220-pound left-handed, stay-home defenseman Ryan Graves to replace Brian Dumoulin, who departed via free agency. Graves is projected to slot beside Kris Letang on the top pairing or Jeff Petry on the second pair.
Marcus Pettersson and P.O Joseph are the other left-handed defensemen on the NHL roster, with Ty Smith also a candidate for a spot with the major-league club. Both Pettersson and Joseph were mentioned in Karlsson trade chatter. However, that was external speculation. To date, no proposals or price tags have been reported.
According to PuckPedia.com, the Penguins have about $58,000 in cap space, with 20 of 23 roster spots filled. That also includes three goalies, Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith, and Alex Nedeljkovic.
Additional National Hockey Now writers contributed to this report.