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Behind Karlsson and Letang, the Penguins’ defensive depth is thin

Most Sundays are quiet in the field hockey world, especially in summer. Journalists are often off work, and it’s not exactly a favourite day for GMs to close deals.

However, two days ago, on August 6, 2023, Kyle Dubas, Mike Grier and Kent Hughes decided to make a move. And if you’re going to make a move, you might as well make it big, right? The rest is history: Jeff Petry returned to Montreal, Mike Hoffman and Rem Pitlick moved on and, most importantly, Erik Karlsson arrived in Pittsburgh.

To do so, the Penguins parted with two defensemen: Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta.

Kyle Dubas may have acquired Karlsson’s services, but without Petry in particular, the depth on the right of the blue line is frightening. After Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson, high-caliber defensemen are in short supply in Pennsylvania, especially on the right side.

Dan Klingerski believes that Dubas still needs to make a move between now and the start of the season to pick up a third-pair right-handed defenseman.

If Karlsson or Letang were to get injured, Chad Ruwhedel would become a top-4 defenseman. It’s not as if Karlsson and Letang are Irons men… Their injury history is pretty scary, though.

After Ruwhedel, there’s Mark Friedman, Ty Smith and Will Butcher. In the short term, these defensemen can get the job done, but it’s in the longer term that depth would be tested.

On the left side of the defense, Ryan Graves and Marcus Pettersson will provide relief on the top-4. Unlike the two star right-handers, these two aren’t very offensive defenders, but defensively, they do the job very well.

Klingerski therefore believes that Dubas still has time to find a solution. And if he doesn’t, the editor-in-chief of Pittsburgh Hockey Now expects a defensive collapse. It’s all well and good if you have a trusted goalie, but with Tristan Jarry, who has been inconsistent in recent seasons, it wouldn’t be an enviable situation, let’s say.

With Jake Guentzel starting the season on the LTIR, Dubas would have just under $6 million to work with. But if one of his best forwards were to start the season healthy, the former Maple Leafs GM would have little or no money left on the payroll. We’ll keep you posted.

On the free agent market, a guy like Ethan Bear is still available. Mark Pysyk and Justin Braun could also be interesting targets. If not, another transaction is conceivable. The Penguins can get Petry back if they want to…


– An underrated prospect in the CH organization chart.

– Casey DeSmith used by Kent Hughes?

– Tim Thomas will address the media for a rare occasion.

– After a three-year absence.

– Mark your calendars.

– Nice win.

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