Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall isn’t shy to make bold transactions. Throughout his tenure with the Penguins, Hextall has dished out long-term contract extensions, he’s made some surprising trades and he’s held onto a few players he probably shouldn’t have.
The Penguins continue to be a work in progress and they’ll try to find their game at the perfect time as the Stanley Cup Playoffs approach this season. While the dog fight continues for points in the Eastern Conference wild card race, let’s jump ahead to what Penguins fans can expect after the season and into the 2023-24 campaign.
Here’s three Penguins who aren’t expected to return next season:
It’s been a very inconsistent season for Penguins forward Danton Heinen. From getting a shot at becoming a middle-six winger in Pittsburgh, to wearing a suit in the press box on game days, Heinen has been through it all in 2022-23. Next season? Don’t expect the pending unrestricted free agent to be re-signed.
The 27-year-old winger signed a one-year $1 million contract with the Penguins before the season started and so far through his 52 appearances, Heinen has recorded only six goals and 18 points. A far cry from the 18 goals he put up in 76 games last season in Pittsburgh.
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Heinen has essentially lost his role with the team and now is going to be in tough to find significant minutes down the stretch and into the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. With the addition of Mikael Granlund, the emergence of Drew O’Connor, and with several other Penguins’ depth options up front, don’t expect to see Heinen back next season.
The one Penguins forward who has likely frustrated the majority of the fan base the most, veteran Jeff Carter is very likely in his final season in Pittsburgh.
Carter has become a defensive liability. Even though he’s one of the smartest players offensively who relies more on hockey IQ than foot speed, his defensive instincts have been horrible this season and flat out embarrassing at times.
Even Carter having one season left on his contract, I wouldn’t expect to see him suiting up in Pittsburgh next season. Perhaps a trade where the Penguins retain half of his salary in the offseason, or even a buy out. A buy out…
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