<i>Pictured: Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin after last year's season finale. The Penguins missed the playoffs for the second straight year, going 33-37-12.</i>
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a new General Manager, hiring a relatively unknown candidate from Winnipeg to oversee hockey operations going forward.
A storied franchise in the EHEC, the Penguins have declined over the past two seasons. Prior to that, they reeled off a stretch of six 50-win seasons out of seven in between 2010-11 and 2016-17. A dismal 30-42-10 record in 2017-18 followed by a 33-37-12 record in 2018-19 left the Pens looking for something new.
GM Trevor takes over an older team (average age 30.3) that has had two straight disappointing seasons and didn't make a single first round pick for four straight drafts from 2014-2017, leaving a fairly limited pool of young talent to build with.
"We're an older team with a shallow prospect pool which isn't an ideal situation to build a contender with. We will be going through a process that takes time here. We need to add depth to the organization and we need to get some young talent in here. Changes are certainly coming," said the new GM at the introductory press conference.
It's not all bad news for the Penguins. The new GM took over with plenty of valuable veterans and only nine players under contract past this summer, leaving plenty of flexibility for a rebuild and for some additions. There's also Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Jacob Olofsson, and Filip Hallander - three top-35 picks from the 2008 draft - in the system, and fourth rounder Jesse Ylonen shows offensive talent despite a poor defensive game.
The rebuild has already started, and reports are that the new GM is busy with more trade negotiation, particularly interested in adding additional high picks in the 2019 and 2020 drafts. Pittsburgh's franchise player, Cody Hodgson, was the first player moved.
"Cody is a player that obviously received a ton of interest - he's an elite player and his relatively cheap contract is a huge asset. We considered a lot of different things and received several serious offers... we considered keeping him around too. Ultimately, we wanted to identify a player that would be the centerpiece of the rebuilding effort. There aren't a lot of players that have the value to bring back something of that magnitude."
Hodgson is on his way to Ottawa, with the Penguins getting the 2nd overall pick in the 2019 draft, D Dion Phaneuf, L/C Laurent Dauphin, and D Nikolas Brouillard back in the deal. They also send a 2021 1st round pick to Ottawa and swapped the 9th overall pick in the 2019 draft for the 10th overall pick.
The Penguins are open to many things with regards to Phaneuf, an elite defenseman. "We've thought about flipping him to further the youth movement. There's obviously always the chance we keep him. He is a true #1 defenseman in this league. It's a long summer, we'll see where it goes."
Dauphin and Brouillard are simply role players, but have some value. Dauphin brings an effective two-way game and scored 55 points last season, while Brouillard is an offensive-minded PP specialist on the back end. The two players will combine to fill their roles for about $2.7M in cap hit next season. Both are also just 24 years old. Meanwhile, the Penguins now have two picks in the top-10 of the 2019 draft. "We have a pretty good idea of where we'll be going with these picks, but anything can happen on draft day, so we'll see. There are a lot of players we're very excited about and we would, ideally, like to become even more of a player on draft day and add another pick or two."