The Pittsburgh Penguins had been formally eradicated from postseason competition Wednesday when the Islanders clinched the Jap Convention’s closing wild-card berth with a 4-2 win over Montreal. Right here’s what you should know:
- The Penguins’ streak of 16 consecutive postseasons (2007-22) was the longest of the NHL’s salary-cap period and the longest in any of North America’s 4 greatest sports activities leagues.
- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang — recognized in Pittsburgh as The Massive Three — had by no means missed the playoffs since turning into teammates in 2006-07.
- The Penguins are 9-10-1 since GM Ron Hextall’s strikes within the week main as much as the NHL commerce deadline (March 4).
- The Penguins managed their playoff future earlier than dropping 5-2 at house to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night time.
The Athletic’s immediate evaluation:
What went incorrect
Truly, it’s extra a case of nothing going proper for these Penguins. They had been performed in by ill-fated personnel choices courting over the previous two seasons. A mixture of misguided participant analysis and poorly conceived trades and signings by Hextall took the Penguins from a division winner (2021) to exterior the playoffs over his two-year tenure. He made the NHL’s oldest group even older and whiffed badly on depth forwards and defensemen. The Penguins additionally by no means obtained reliable goaltending, with Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith combining for a .898 save proportion this season.
What comes subsequent
Hextall, who has one yr remaining on his contract, isn’t any lock to return for a 3rd full season. He and Brian Burke, the group’s president of hockey operations, had been employed in February 2021 lower than two weeks after the sudden resignation of former GM Jim Rutherford. Hextall and Burke had been employed by the group’s earlier house owners. The Penguins had been bought by Fenway Sports activities Group (FSG) halfway by way of the 2021-22 season, and FSG would possibly view the tip of the franchise’s heralded postseason streak as a chance to herald its personal administration group. Coach Mike Sullivan, who has two years left on his present contract, obtained a dear extension final summer time — and it’s robust to examine FSG eager to pay Sullivan to not coach for 5 full seasons.
Looking forward to the offseason
The perennially cap-strapped Penguins are dedicated to fifteen gamers at a mixed $63,291,842 towards the 2023-24 wage cap, which initiatives to be not more than $82.5 million. Notable unrestricted free brokers embody Jarry, winger Jason Zucker and defenseman Brian Dumoulin. The Penguins have at the very least three troublesome contracts — forwards Jeff Carter (one yr, $3.25 million), Mikael Granlund (two years, $5 million common annual worth) and defenseman Jeff Petry (two years, $6.25 million AAV) — that may restrict roster flexibility this offseason. Carter is ineligible for a buyout.
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(Photograph: Maddie Meyer / Getty Pictures)
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