Why Kyle Dubas Faces An Uphill Battle in Joining the Penguins

He has a lot of work to do, as will the eventual new GM. Both will need to realize the gravity of the challenge they’re facing first and foremost to have any hope of eventually getting the job done.

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The Penguins at last have a new President of Hockey Operations, if not a new General Manager.

It’ll be up to Kyle Dubas, summoned to be the former, to identify the latter.

He’d better have his eyes wide open.

It’s going to take a lot more than the purging of Brian Burke and Ron Hextall, the former president of hockey opps and the former GM, respectively, to clean up this mess.

Hopefully, Dubas and the eventual new GM will assume their positions with a keen appreciation of the following:

Hopefully, whoever takes the job will do so with a keen appreciation of the following:

  • The Penguins may have finished a mere one point behind Florida while coming up just short of the playoffs, but had they instead managed to sneak past the Panthers and sneak into the postseason there’s no way they’d have been able to pull off a run to the Stanley Cup Final, as Florida has remarkably done.
  • The Pens don’t have a goaltender the caliber of Sergei Bobrovsky.
  • They don’t have a goal scorer as clutch as Matthew Tkachuk.
  • They don’t have anyone as competitively vicious as Sam Bennett or Radko Gudas.
  • And despite Mike Sullivan’s best proddings and pleadings, the Pens are nowhere near as comfortable, capable or composed as the Panthers are when leading or trailing by a goal, when tied in the latter stages of a game or when overtime is required (scenarios all that come into play much more often than not in the postseason).
  • The Pens too often couldn’t handle playoff-type circumstances and stakes down the stretch.
  • There’s no way they’d have been able to function well enough individually and collectively to win actual playoff games.

In accurately assessing what’s being inherited, Dubas and the new GM need look no further than the 5-2 loss the Pens suffered against Chicago on April 11 at PPG Paints Arena. It was the second-to-last game of the regular season and the Pens still had everything to play for and yet they came up empty against a team that was in the dying stages of a dreadful season and fielding a lineup littered with AHL-caliber players.

It was just one of 82 games but it couldn’t have been more defining for the 2022-23 Penguins.

Significant changes must be made and they’re going to be difficult to make due to no-movement clauses in contracts and the age, expense and diminishing returns attached to many of those the Pens should otherwise attempt to trade. But a shakeup is nonetheless an absolute necessity.

The goal should be a remake of the roster if not a rebuild.

The idea of trying to plug a few complementary pieces in around the “Big Three” in an effort to coax one more Cup run out of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang is pure folly.

Decisions must be made based on who the Penguins are, not on what the fans want them to be or how any organizational holdovers many still perceive them.

Analytics will no doubt end up being relied upon heavily as a tool in the evaluation process given Dubas’ history. But if not Dubas or the eventual new GM, somebody in the personnel department had better be able to watch a player play and determine whether or not that player can or can’t play.

Change for change’s sake isn’t necessarily advisable in most instances, but there are exceptions. In goal, for example, the Pens have a choice between Tristan Jarry and “somebody else.” The latter would be preferable, for starters.

Moves should be made aggressively and with conviction. After all, Dubas and the eventual new GM can’t possibly do any worse than their predecessors.

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section