The Pittsburgh Penguins have hired Ron Hextall as their general manager, according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. The former Philadelphia Flyers general manager will take over in place of Jim Rutherford, who resigned earlier this season for personal reasons. Hextall, who recently served in the Hockey Operations department for the Los Angeles Kings, will look to transform the Penguins into a contender for the Stanley Cup in his new role. The team has also hired current Sportsnet analyst and former general manager Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.
The Penguins have named Ron Hextall as general manager and Brian Burke as president of hockey operations.
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 9, 2021
Penguins Hire Ron Hextall
This is not Ron Hextall’s first kick at the can of being an NHL general manager. Hextall was hired by the Flyers to be their general manager in May of 2014. While at the helm of the Flyers, some people thought he made some questionable decisions, however, he put the team in a position to succeed in the future. As you can see Hextall laid the groundwork for what the Flyers have become. During his tenure with the Flyers, he drafted and signed Travis Konecny, Carter Hart, Joel Farabee, Ivan Provorov, Travis Sanheim, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Oskar Lindblom, and others. Not to mention he signed players like Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere to long-term deals. So Hextall has an eye for young talent, something the Penguins are looking for in their next general manager.
The Penguins have a good history of drafting and developing and Hextall is the perfect fit for that role.
Jim Rutherford’s General Management Legacy
After winning a Stanley Cup managing the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, Rutherford joined the Penguins as their general manager in the 2014-15 season. Since then, the Penguins have successfully made the playoffs each year. He won the Cup twice with the Penguins, in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Rutherford’s reputation as a quick-thinking general manager allowed him to draft players like Jake Guentzel and secure solid trades for Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, and many others. In 2019, Rutherford was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. His ability to quickly negotiate and navigate trades and free agency made his induction a no-brainer.
Unfortunately, a team can only contend for so long. Rutherford made a series of questionable moves near the end of his career. The signing (and eventual buyout) of Jack Johnson, along with trades for Mike Matheson, will haunt the Penguins for years. Additionally, the Penguins have one of the worst prospect pools in the NHL. While the window for the Cup is still open for the Penguins, a lot of work will need to be done to right the ship for the team.
Ron Hextall’s Role with the Penguins
Any team with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is bound to make a splash. Hextall’s goal will be to gear the team up for another run at the Stanley Cup. Hextall still has a variety of high-impact players like Kris Letang and Jake Guentzel that can consistently make an impact. His goal should be to trade the few assets they have left to take one last crack at the playoffs before the wheels fall off the wagon. The Penguins will inevitably come back down to earth as Crosby and Malkin draw closer to retirement. Having said that, time is still on the Penguins’ side. If Hextall hopes to win another Cup, he will need to risk it all and hope it pays off.
Embed from Getty Images