Kyle Dubas may be looking to reverse disastrous mistake he made in Pittsburgh

Ryan Smitheram
December 20, 2023  (6:22 PM)

Photo credit: NHL

On August 6th, Kyle Dubas and the Pittsburgh Penguins shocked the hockey world when they announced that they had acquired Norris Trophy winning defenceman Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks. The deal saw the Penguins receive Karlsson, Dillion Kamaliuk, Rem Pitlick and a 2028 third round pick (SJS) in a three-way trade. The Penguins then sent Mikael Granlund, Jan Rutta, 2024 first round pick, 2025 second round pick, Jeff Petry Casey DeSmith and Nathan Legare to San Jose and Montreal respectively.

At the time, the deal was supposed to help the Penguins compete for one more Stanley Cup with their aging core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. Unfortunately, the Penguins have struggled to find any consistency to begin the season and find themselves four points out of the second wild card spot and 13th overall in the Eastern Conference. The Penguins recently held a players only meeting in the hopes of turning things around but are only 4-3-3 in their last 10 games.
A Penguins reporter and writer for Pittsburgh Hockey Now, Dan Kingerski, has reported that given Dubas' recent comments about seeing where the team is at come January and the trade deadline that their shiny new toy, meaning Karlsson, could be the first shipped out of town.
"From this view of the church, it seems the Penguins could indeed trade Erik Karlsson. He's here to win, and if that's not going to happen, both sides could find a quick and amicable parting. Dubas could surely recoup the first and second-round picks the Penguins gave up in the deal, if not more, and even come out ahead. However, next summer is the more likely timeframe for that trade because of Karlsson's salary," wrote Kingerski.

Karlsson is in the fifth year of an eight year contract he signed with San Jose in 2019 that carries an AAV of $11.5M. The Sharks are currently retaining $1.5M, meaning the Penguins are on the hook for $10M and would find it very difficult to unload the full cap hit on a contending team. That is why it is more plausible to see Karlsson be dealt in the off-season when teams have more flexibility and can exceed the cap ceiling by 10 percent.
The 33-year-old is still an elite player and has 22 points in 30 games so far this year, but continues to struggle on the defensive side of the puck, as he has for most of his career. The high-risk, high-reward Karlsson would definitely help a contending team that is looking for an offensive, top-pairing defenseman, but in Pittsburgh, it looks like there are too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, and given that Letang, Crosby and Malkin won't be traded, Karlsson is the odd man out. Trading Karlsson would give Dubas a re-do with the some of the cap space he used up on Karlsson and the ability spread that money out across the team as well as begin to restock a very baren prospect cupboard.
Kyle Dubas may be looking to reverse disastrous mistake he made in Pittsburgh

Do you think the Penguins will trade Karlsson?

Yes, but not until the summer22127.3 %
No, Dubas will never admit it was a bad deal45155.7 %
Yes, they'll move him in-season too13817 %
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