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Why It Best Penguins DON’T Tank This Year



Mike Sullivan behind Penguins bench

The Pittsburgh Penguins are potentially three points out of a playoff spot. Three. Go ahead and read that, re-read that, and try not to flame the comments section with a litany of anger and disgust.

This season has been an exercise in the obnoxious. Every Penguins opportunity has been met with an odd derision and rejection, often on the ice, but always on social media, too.

And so, again, the Penguins trail the Philadelphia Flyers by seven points with two games in hand. No, you don’t have to comment or rage that Jeff Carter was in the lineup, or that Mike Sullivan won’t play young players (despite a handful or more being in the lineup already), or that Tristan Jarry is a terrible goalie, or that the Penguins should trade everyone including the dirty socks, or that the Erik Karlsson trade was a terrible idea.

I heard you the first six billion times.

Now, to the point. It behooves the Penguins to win every game they can for the remainder of the season. Every single one. Do not tank. Do not try for a better draft pick.


Because next season has a good chance of being worse. Statistically, it is likely the Penguins will be worse.

How will the Penguins improve in 2024-25 with 37-year-old Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang, 38-year-old Evgeni Malkin, 34-year-old Erik Karlsson, and even 31-year-old Bryan Rust?

Penguins president of hockey operations/GM Kyle Dubas will have some money this offseason, but the odds of turning this ship around are longer than they are for getting worse.

The Penguins owe the San Jose Sharks a first-round pick this year or next. If they get the 10th pick this year, it’s protected from the Sharks as part of the Karlsson trade, and the Penguins will automatically lose their first pick next year.

No good.

Let’s put some cold logic to the situation with some hockey insider chatter. The 2024 NHL Draft is often seen as an array of prospects who will be selected ahead of slot in comparison to players in past drafts. There does not seem to be a talented Zach Benson who will be hanging around at 13th or a Lane Hutson to be snagged early in the second round.

Draftniks are a bit bearish when discussing the full 2024 Draft, with the exception of presumptive first-overall pick Macklin Celebrini, though he’s not necessarily a franchise savior either.

Experts that PHN communicates with already believe the 2025 Draft will be deeper with equal top-end talent.

And that’s why should the Pittsburgh Penguins should not tank but try to win every game. First, why not try to make the playoffs, recoup millions in revenue, give younger players the experience and exposure to the intense postseason, and take your shot at the Stanley Cup, no matter how long the odds?

Second, and more importantly is for the logical folks who are concerned with the future. Since the 2025 class is projected to be better, and the Penguins are projected to be worse, they are likely to have a better pick in 2025, thus

So, if the Penguins can actually make a little run at the playoffs and get a draft pick in the teens, it makes perfect sense to pass that pick onto San Jose and project from the very possible, if not predictable, crater next season.

If you do want the Penguins to get the best prospect over the next two seasons, root for them to win now because history suggests next year might be ugly, and the Penguins have a true lottery pick with solid odds for the top-five pick.

And even if they middle again next year, they’ll likely get a better player than they would at the 2024 NHL Draft.

You may now return to overwhelming the social media platforms with the hope of dire results, demands for decimation, and more losses.