Big decisions to come for the Penguins and it could benefit the Canadiens

Jeff Drouin
May 16, 2022  (3:03 PM)

On Sunday night, Artemi Panarin scored in overtime in the 7th and final game of the series, eliminating the Pittsbugh Penguins.

This defeat of the Penguins may mark the end of an era, not only in Pittsburgh but in the entire NHL. The club's management team, with Ron Hextall at the helm, will have some very big decisions to make this summer for the future of the franchise.
The GM has two choices, either to take advantage of the last few years of Crosby and rebuild the club, with the same group of veterans, or to take advantage of the fact that some of the organization's key players are going to become free agents without compensation in order to rebuild.
Let's first look at the picture for the 2022-2023 season. As of today, 15 players have active contracts for the next season, taking a total of $54,166,842 from the payroll. That doesn't leave a lot of money, around $28M, to sign the eight players needed to reach the 23 required contracts.
Hextall will, however, have two players who will become free agents with compensation this summer. He is not in a hurry to come to an agreement with Kasperi Kapanen ($3.2 million this season) and Danton Heinen ($1.1 million), who are guaranteed to stay with the organization unless a trade or hostile offer is made.
The big story will be the nine players who will fall completely free this summer. Evgeni Malkin ($9.5M), Bryan Rust ($3.5M), Rickard Rakell ($2.46M), Evan Rodrigues ($1M), Kris Letang ($7.25M), Bryan Boyle ($750K), Nathan Beaulieu ($1M), Casey DeSmith ($1.25M), and Louis Domingue ($750K) will all be unrestricted free agents this summer.
If Hextall wants to try his luck once again and go all out to get one last cup under the Crosby era (his contract ends at the end of the 2023-2024 season), he will want to bring back his two acolytes in Evgeny Malkin and Kris Letang. This decision will not be doing the Pens any favors in terms of salary, however, and between them could cut nearly $18 million from the remaining 28. This would be quite restrictive, which is why the trio will definitely have to be separated, and the logical choice would be for Malkin to leave the Pens.
Regardless of whether Hextall wants continuity or a rebuild, he'll have his work cut out for him this summer. Kent Hughes will have to stay on the lookout because several Pens players, besides Letang, could be very interesting for the CH. Kasperi Kapanen, who would join his cousin Oliver who is already in the Montreal organization (2nd round in 2021, 64th overall), could be a great option!
16 MAI   |   170 ANSWERS
Big decisions to come for the Penguins and it could benefit the Canadiens

Which of these Pens UFA players would you see fit with the Habs?

Rust3319.4 %
Letang8851.8 %
Malkin2917.1 %
Rakell2011.8 %
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