Kyle Dubas Bringing Two Familiar Faces to the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Pittsburgh Penguins, Kyle Dubas. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins, Kyle Dubas. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /

When Kyle Dubas was hired as the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in July 2014, expectations were high in a hockey market. Although it is not a hockey hotbed like Toronto, Pittsburgh may have Dubas feeling the same pressure as team president and current interim general manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Dubas was hired as team president on June 1st and will assume the duties of the general manager until July 1st. Moves are to be made, but how significant will they be to the team’s future?

Will Dubas make a big splash as part of the Pittsburgh Penguins?

Dubas did not win a Stanley Cup in Toronto with the Maple Leafs but he had a nice core group of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and captain John Tavares that was heavily depended upon.

Although Dubas and current Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan may not have seen eye to eye in the end, Dubas continued a positive relationship with the players. Will that kind of relationship with the players come in handy before the 2023-24 NHL season? It just might.

The Penguins have $20.208 million in projected cap space and a roster that needs an upgrade sooner than later for one more run at the Cup.

Sidney Crosby (two years left on his current deal), Evgeni Malkin (three years left), and Jake Guentzel (one year left) are hopeful for one more playoff run before retirement calls or before a move is made, but could it be too late?

Dubas would like to make a big, and quick, impression as he settles into his new role. A new forward or two could give this roster an instant upgrade and a chance for another playoff run.

Toronto, on the other hand, is in need of cap relief. Currently with a projected cap space of -$9.143 million, the Maple Leafs also need help with their roster management. Matthews is not going anywhere, and neither is Tavares. What about Nylander and Marner?

Marner has two years left on his deal, and Nylander has been rumored in trades for years now. Could something be in the works to benefit both teams?

The Penguins need more depth and more scoring. Toronto needs cap relief and defensemen. Toronto has forward Ryan O’Reilly, defenseman Justin Holl, goaltender Ilya Samsonov, and forward Michael Bunting as free agents. They cannot afford to re-sign all of these players, along with keeping Marner and Nylander. Someone has to go.

The Penguins also have a roster problem, as goaltender Casey DeSmith, defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph, and Chad Ruhwedel, along with  forwards Alexander Nylander and Jake Guentzel all have one year left on their deals.

A couple of trades between the Maple Leafs and Penguins could help both teams.

To Toronto: forwards Guentzel and Nylander, a 2023 1st round pick, a 2024 2nd round pick, and a 2025 2nd round pick. To Pittsburgh would be forward Marner.

Another trade possibility would be Toronto sending forward William Nylander to Pittsburgh in exchange for defenseman Joseph, prospect Samuel Poulin, and a 2024 2nd round pick.

These trades give Pittsburgh immediate scoring depth and help at a shot for another Cup run. Crosby and Malkin are getting older, and there is no telling how much longer they will play.

Trading for William Nylander and Marner would give the Penguins two scoring threats to play alongside Crosby and Malkin for their remaining years and also gives the Penguins two players to build around when Crosby and Malkin hang up their skates.

For the Maple Leafs, it gives them a solidified defenseman, a prospect forward, and plenty of early draft picks. These trades could set up both teams for success down the line. This, of course, would have to be done sooner than later as the 2023 NHL Draft is upon us and some of those picks are in this draft.

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Toronto has to figure out its roster because of the cap situation, so why not make a trade that sets them up for future success beyond the second round? They cannot keep the core four forever, so they might want to get something in return while they can.