The Pittsburgh Penguins are at .500 with only 11 wins in 25 games. The lackluster loss was panned by players, the coach, and definitely by PHN’s Dan Kingerski. However, TSN analyst Craig Button took direct aim at Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas, too.
The Penguins’ opponent Wednesday was the Tampa Bay Lightning, themselves fighting to stay above .500 and struggling to do it.
Wednesday night, Button broke down the teams and why the teams that have won four Stanley Cups in the last seven seasons are struggling. In addition to salary cap attrition, Button noted the lack of depth for both teams, including on the blue line.
But that’s when Button veered from the team performances to Dubas.
“He made the same significant error in Pittsburgh this past summer as he did in Toronto,” Button said on the sports network. “And that was signing a player they didn’t need. Not that Erik Karlsson isn’t a good player–he’s a heck of a player. Not that John Tavares wasn’t a good player, and he is a good player. They didn’t need them.”
In fairness to Dubas, Karlsson wasn’t a free-agent signing. The Penguins traded for him and shed significant unwanted salary in the process. The traded players, Jeff Petry, Mikael Granlund, and Jan Rutta, neither fit in the Penguins scheme nor established themselves during their tenures.
After a $1.56 million salary holdback for Petry but getting the San Jose Sharks to hold back $1.5 million for Karlsson, the Penguins moved about $12 million in cap space to accept Karlsson at $10 million, though they also accepted Rem Pitlick from the Montreal Canadiens, lessening their savings.
But Button pressed on.
“You take $10 million and allocate it to a player you don’t need in Erik Karlsson,” Button continued. “He could have taken that money and built out the depth of his group. So, while Tampa Bay is trying to manage the talent drain, the attrition — Kyle Dubas had salary cap space.
“He had money to spend and didn’t spend it wisely.”
The Penguins are three points behind the Toronto Maple Leafs for the second wild card spot, but Toronto has three games in hand.
You can watch the TSN video here.