Hockey Insider Frank Seravalli stated today on the Daily Faceoff Rundown podcast that he expects the Pittsburgh Penguins to employ the same management structure they had with their previous group and hire a General Manager and a President of Hockey Operations. Previous GM Ron Hextall and President of Hockey Ops Brian Burke were fired after the season ended as they led the Penguins to their first season out of the playoffs in 16 years.
While it comes as no surprise that the Penguins would want to use that structure, some of the names of who they’ve reportedly interviewed are quite surprising. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that Pittsburgh spoke with 10-12 candidates in their first round of interviews and included in that list were Marc Bergevin, Eric Tulsky, Jason Karmanos and Peter Chiarelli. LeBrun added that he expects some of those men to be interviewed a second time as the process goes on.
One name that will likely not be interview is Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas. The young GM held a press conference today where he expressed his desire to remain in Toronto while simultaneously stating he didn’t want to look elsewhere at this time after the past season was so difficult for him and his family.
Whoever ultimately lands the Penguins management jobs will be in tough to build around an aging core with multiple bad contracts to try and navigate. Pittsburgh correctly committed to Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin last summer, as well as Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell. However, they were saddled with a bottom six that couldn’t get going offensively, and a team that couldn’t find a defensive identity. All of this, coupled with inconsistent goaltending from Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith led to the Penguins missing the playoffs for just the second time in the Sidney Crosby era.
It’ll be a long summer in Pittsburgh; however, it could be the most interesting one they’ve had since Jim Rutherford plucked Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 2015 trade and kickstarted a two-year run of brilliance in the steel city. The Penguins still have a very strong top-6 and will have around $20MM in cap space once free agency begins.