PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Penguins have boldly shifted their focus, abandoning the delicate balance between securing their future and maximizing their present performance.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and the rest of the Penguins organization, under the leadership of new President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Kyle Dubas, have fully committed to the pursuit of dominance in the Eastern Conference.
In a substantial trade, Pittsburgh sent forward Mikael Granlund, defenseman Jan Rutta, and a 2024 first-round pick to San Jose.
Additionally, they traded goaltender Casey DeSmith, defenseman Jeff Petry, prospect Nathan Legare, and a 2025 second-round pick to Montreal.
The centerpiece of this deal was the acquisition of three-time Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson.
Karlsson’s acquisition marks a significant move, as he becomes the first defenseman to be traded immediately after winning the Norris Trophy since Doug Harvey in 1961.
This 33-year-old Swedish star achieved an impressive milestone by becoming the first defenseman since Brian Leetch in 1991-92 to record 100 points in a single season.
San Jose’s General Manager, Mike Grier, acknowledged the challenge of parting with a player of Karlsson’s caliber but highlighted the multifaceted benefits the trade brings to their franchise.
The Sharks gain two skilled forwards with proven NHL offensive capabilities, enhance their defensive lineup, secure an additional first-round pick, and obtain financial flexibility for future roster improvements.
The intricacies of the trade also involved the Canadiens to ensure compliance with the salary cap.
Karlsson, under contract for four more years with a cap hit of $11.5 million, will see $1.5 million retained by San Jose until the conclusion of the deal in 2027.
Pittsburgh will retain $1.56 million of Petry’s salary.
As part of the deal, the Penguins received forward Rem Pitlick, prospect Dillon Hamaliuk, and San Jose’s 2026 third-round pick. Additionally, the Sharks acquired Mike Hoffman from the Canadiens.
Pittsburgh’s core players, including Crosby, Malkin, and Letang, are entering the latter stages of their careers, all in their mid-30s.
The arrival of Karlsson, at 33 years old, adds a dynamic scoring element to the team, despite occasional defensive vulnerabilities.
Dubas’ pursuit of Karlsson began early in free agency, and although it took time for the pieces to align, the Penguins’ determination prevailed.
This trade marks the departure of Granlund, who had a limited impact since his puzzling acquisition at the trade deadline last season.
Petry, plagued by injuries and inconsistency, is also part of the outgoing group.
The Penguins’ revamped defensive lineup now boasts Karlsson, Letang, and Ryan Graves, who recently inked a six-year deal.
The departure of DeSmith leaves Tristan Jarry as the sole experienced goaltender in Coach Mike Sullivan’s system.
Pittsburgh, having been the oldest team in the NHL last season, remains a formidable contender.
Despite the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup victory in the Western Conference, the top four teams from the previous regular season hailed from the Eastern Conference.
With the Penguins’ iconic trio on the brink of Hall of Fame careers, Dubas’ proactive approach during the offseason aims to bridge the gap that separates Pittsburgh from the Eastern Conference’s elite contenders.
As the season opener against Chicago on October 10 approaches, Pittsburgh fans eagerly anticipate how this new configuration will reshape the team’s destiny on the ice.