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Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

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FLPensFan
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Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by FLPensFan »

So, now that the season is over (ok, there's a meaningless game tomorrow), I've had most of this queued up for awhile, but thought it was time to start looking at Dubas's body of work this season, and what he needs to do this offseason.

I've rated Dubas's offseason and in-season trades, his offseason signings, and waiver pickups using a +5/-5 scale, with a +5 being the best and -5 being the worst. I tried not to jump to a specific rating based on future aspects (ie, Graves being signed for 5 more years) and tried to focus on the result given this season.

Feel free to agree, disagree, or chime in with your own rating on the +5 to -5 scale.

Trade acquistions (NHL level)

1) Reilly Smith (+1) - Smith's production is at almost career low levels, but his acquisition cost was cheap (only a 3rd rounder). While he hasn't produced, he hasn't "hurt" the Penguins either.

2) Erik Karlsson (+2) - Would have liked to have seen this a higher level, but Karlsson has been hit or miss. We all knew another 100 point season wasn't coming, but, Karlsson seemed to struggle to play his game in Mike Sullivan's system. Karlsson was not the PP boost this team was looking for. He seemed to be more comfortable towards the end of the season. Will he be better in Year 2?

3) Emil Bemstrom (0) - Nylander wasn't working here. Bemstrom hasn't done much better. His game isn't really suited for 4th line duty. He'll need to to step up his consistency and production to earn a 3rd line role. That said, he hasn't hurt the team either in his short time here.

4) Michael Bunting (+3) - We all knew (eventually) that the Guentzel return wasn't going to be great. Bunting was poo-poo'd by the analtyics crowd upon acquisition, shown as a poor play driver. But, Bunting has come in and produced from the start, and adds a little tougher net-front garbage guy this team sorely missed. His 5 goals and 14 points through 18 games projects to 22 goals, 63 points over 82 games...which would tie his career high.

Off-season signings

1) Tristan Jarry (-1) - The options were limited, but his pay, term, and trade protection all seem to be above his level of play, unless you only count each season through January. Jarry has lost his net to Nedeljkovic down the stretch. He's played well at times, but the injuries and 2nd half cliff dives aren't disappearing.

2) Ryan Graves (-3) - Ouch. 6 years, 4.5M, 6 years of trade protection. Graves has struggled mightily, and has had a negative impact on many games this season with his poor play. If we hadn't seen similar issues with players like Gonchar and Martin, this would be an instant -5. Got to see if Graves can turn things around in camp and give a much better showing in Year 2. Otherwise, Dubas has a gaping, money sucking hole in his top 4 defense.

3) Lars Eller (+4) - I don't think anyone expected a lot out of Lars Eller. An aging, mostly defensive center whose offense was on the decline. Eller may be the best signing Dubas made. He provided a little more offense than expected, was a mainstay in the lineup, and maybe even more needed, a strong voice in the locker room. When hearing him speak to the media, he reminds me a lot of Brooks Orpik...he may not be as blunt as Orpik could be, but he doesn't sugar coat things either. Eller centering a 4th line role next season would be ideal in that, he's better than that. Problem is, the Penguins need to go out and find a 3rd line center better than Eller.

4) Noel Acciari (-1) - I get the idea. Acciari is known as a playoff warrior, good defensively, and can play C/RW. The contract Dubas handed out wasn't ideal, overpaying a bit on price, term, and throwing in an NTC for good measure. Acciari was often injured and forced to play Center instead of his more comfortable, productive position of RW, because of Jeff Carter. Acciari had a very down year production and health wise, and...what good is a playoff warrior to a team that doesn't make the playoffs.

5) Alex Nedeljkovic (+4) - Easy to see that Eller and Ned, even though more lower level signings, were the stars of Dubas's 2023 offseason. The hope was that Ned could regain his Carolina form, and he appeared to do just that. Ned boasted the best mid-range save percentage of all goalies with over 1000 minutes played. He played well enough for Sullivan to ride him for 11 straight games. Ned is probably not a #1 goalie anywhere in the league, but a Ned/Blomqvist duo next season would be very intriguing and cheaper than keeping the perpetual 2nd half fading Jarry around.

6) Matt Nieto (-4) - I haven't been shy about my disdain for Nieto. In a nutshell, the early effort I saw from Hinostroza was what I expected from Nieto on a nightly basis. Nieto looked lost, looked uninterested, and ended up being injured for most of the season. Being a good PK guy isn't an excuse to keep a player in your lineup. Nieto is signed through this upcoming season, and I'm really hoping he remains an AHL buried injury callup, or is traded to another team. I didn't see a fit here, and would rather a young guy skate around cluelessly for 7 minutes a night than a veteran doing the same thing.

7) Ryan Shea (0) - I'm incomplete on Shea. I don't think he was awful. I don't think he was great. He's probably a serviceable 6/7 guy who is cheap. He'll be here next year, as he has a contract. Sullivan also recently stated Shea is someone the team targeted as far back as 2020 when he failed to sign with Chicago, and ended up with

8) Zohorna, Koppanen, Hinostroza, Johnstone, Butcher, Hellberg, Johnsson (Incomplete) - A bunch of spare parts. Johnsson left to go back to Europe. Butcher was sent packing. Zohorna has showed why he can't stay on an NHL roster (consistency), Johnstone and Koppanen never really challenged for a spot or much of a callup. Hellberg was fine when needed, and Hinostroza gave an early spark but then faded in subsequent callups.

9) Jesse Puljujarvi (+2) - Dubas took a risk on a young guy with a bad surgery for NHL players. JP recovered, and played ok in his time here. He showed that he has a shot, he can forecheck, and he will use his size and body effectively. The main issue I see is the Penguins have a logjam on RW, and that's JP's only real position. He didn't show much playing LW for the team. Sullivan needs to give him more of a shot next season on his natural right side, and see what he can do.


Waiver pickups

1) John Ludvig (+1) - I thought he played well enough for a bottom pairing defenseman. Penguins like his size and physical play. Analytics were not kind to him at times, but, I'm ok with Ludvig, Shea, and St. Ivany battling for a spot in the lineup and a reserve role.

2) Jansen Harkins (-3) - No harm in giving him a shot. Plenty of harm continuing to dress "the lineup giving us the best chance to win" and keeping a straight face with Harkins in that lineup. He's a nickel a dozen (not even worthy of a dime) player. He's an OK PK and he has a little physicality to him. He provides ZERO offensively. He's like the offspring of Craig Adams and Tanner Glass. I'd rather see a Ryan Reaves goon that Harkins...at least the goon can fight. Harkins is a UFA who shouldn't be coming back.

3) Matthew Phillips (-5) - Point? None. We had several young guys that deserved more of a look than this AHL shrimp. This was throwing out a bucket of **** and hoping something stuck. Instead, something just stunk.
pcmforless
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by pcmforless »

Spot on. Karlsson was a gamble that we lost on a little bit due to poor defensive decisions, but he was known for that. Somehow he wrecked the power play instead of helping it, but we offloaded a LOT of garbage in that trade. Still potential upside here....

Graves was shocking how bad he was. Hopefully he can turn it around for sure and be the player hoped for next year.

Bunting is Hornqvist 2.0, traded a sniping scorer for a net front presence.... And it works for this team. I think that return is going to work out great for the Pens and really takes a lot of the sting out of having to let Jake leave.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by Zarovich »

pcmforless wrote: Wed Apr 17, 2024 1:12 am Spot on. Karlsson was a gamble that we lost on a little bit due to poor defensive decisions, but he was known for that. Somehow he wrecked the power play instead of helping it, but we offloaded a LOT of garbage in that trade. Still potential upside here....

Graves was shocking how bad he was. Hopefully he can turn it around for sure and be the player hoped for next year.

Bunting is Hornqvist 2.0, traded a sniping scorer for a net front presence.... And it works for this team. I think that return is going to work out great for the Pens and really takes a lot of the sting out of having to let Jake leave.
Karlsson doesn’t drive power plays.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by Southern Fan »

Other good thing about Karlsson trade was what left the Pens. Petry, Granlund, Ruuta and DeSmith. Tough to eat a little of Petry salary, but seemed worth it at the time. Theoretically, Karlsson will be around after Letang retires.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by Antonio »

Honestly I think any rating at this point is kind of meaningless because until the god emperor behind the bench is gone, we can't really fairly and correctly assess the quality and skills of the players, especially given the consistent negative impact being under him has on players and their effort, skill, production levels. This team is broken, the system (whatever that is) is broken, etc. New coaching staff but until then, whatever.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by Skatingpen »

While I don’t disagree about Sullivan. How do you explain the last month of the season? Did he all of a sudden learn how to coach, or did the players all of a sudden play the way he wanted?
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by pronovost19 »

According to your ratings he is at EVEN for the entire lot. I think he deserves a less than mediocre rating based on the product on the ice.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by FLPensFan »

Skatingpen wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 8:53 pm While I don’t disagree about Sullivan. How do you explain the last month of the season? Did he all of a sudden learn how to coach, or did the players all of a sudden play the way he wanted?
Maybe they finally started trying. Maybe they finally got over their buddy Jake leaving. Whatever it is...it hasn't been sustainable since 2018. The last 2 years in particular they have just looked like a complete mess.

Either Dubas needs to come in and put his foot down and say these are the players/types of players we are getting, or Sullivan needs to go. We need some younger players with more skill. We need some form of physicality on this team. The whole "just play...and let our stars get thumped, our goalie run while we throw up peace signs" crap doesn't work. You have to have a highly effective power play for that to work and...well...yeah.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by Admin »

Skatingpen wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 8:53 pm While I don’t disagree about Sullivan. How do you explain the last month of the season? Did he all of a sudden learn how to coach, or did the players all of a sudden play the way he wanted?
With the mounting injuries, he was forced to play some young guys. Young guys inject some life and combined with Ned getting hot they had a run. That’s my take.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by Antonio »

Admin wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 10:08 pm
Skatingpen wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 8:53 pm While I don’t disagree about Sullivan. How do you explain the last month of the season? Did he all of a sudden learn how to coach, or did the players all of a sudden play the way he wanted?
With the mounting injuries, he was forced to play some young guys. Young guys inject some life and combined with Ned getting hot they had a run. That’s my take.
Yup. Sullivan doesn't do a single thing that isn't in his standard playbook unless FORCED to. Even after late season success with young guys he didn't want to play until injuries forced it, he still found ways to pull guys out, put guys like Harkins back etc. He's an obstinate fool.
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Re: Rating the 2023 Kyle Dubas transactions

Post by IntangibleBeer »

Admin wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 10:08 pm
Skatingpen wrote: Thu Apr 18, 2024 8:53 pm While I don’t disagree about Sullivan. How do you explain the last month of the season? Did he all of a sudden learn how to coach, or did the players all of a sudden play the way he wanted?
With the mounting injuries, he was forced to play some young guys. Young guys inject some life and combined with Ned getting hot they had a run. That’s my take.
I think this is most accurate take of the situation. And if the team struggles at the beginning of next season the way it did for the first 70 games of this year, we’ll have confirmation of the problem.
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