3 best candidates to replace Ron Hextall as Pittsburgh Penguins GM

The Pittsburgh Penguins failed to make the playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons. In the wake of that failure, the team has made sweeping changes to its front office structure.

Pittsburgh fired general manager Ron Hextall, assistant general manager Chris Pryor, and director of hockey ops Brian Burke. The future of head coach Mike Sullivan is also a bit murky, though he still remains installed as the team’s leader behind the bench.

The team’s new general manager has a few decisions to make. There’s the matter of Sullivan, but the issues go beyond that. A new GM faces interesting roster decisions immediately upon taking the job

Forward Jason Zucker and defenseman Brian Dumoulin are set to hit free agency. Both have indicated a desire to return, but the Penguins need to clear cap space in order for that to happen.

There’s also the matter of goaltender Tristan Jarry. Another impending free agent, Jarry has spent the last few seasons as the top netminder in Pittsburgh. For a team without much depth between the pipes, re-signing their favored goaltender seems like a must.

Lastly, there’s the matter of the veteran underperformers. Jeff Carter, Jeff Petry, and Mikael Granlund are albatrosses on the team’s books after their 2022-23 seasons. How does a GM manage these bloated deals?

Before we get into any of the speculations, Pittsburgh actually has to hire a general manager. With that in mind, here are three candidates to replace Ron Hextall as Penguins general manager.

3. Alexandra Mandrycky, Seattle Kraken assistant GM

Mandrycky’s rise through the NHL ranks has been nothing short of meteoric. The Seattle Kraken hired her in July 2019 as Director of Hockey Administration. She assisted in the team’s search for their first-ever GM.

This past September saw the Kraken promote Mandrycky to assistant GM. In addition to that role, she heads up the team’s research and development departments. Furthermore, she oversees amateur scouting.

Mandrycky is one of, if not the most, powerful women in all of hockey. She has garnered immense support as a future general manager in the NHL, an opportunity that could come sooner rather than later for her.

Many fans will point to one of the Kraken’s other assistant general managers for this position, and we’ll get to him later. However, keep Mandrycky’s name in mind. She will certainly be in contention for this position.

2. Scott Mellanby, St. Louis Blues senior advisor

Mellanby has been around the game of hockey for a very long time. A 21-year NHL veteran as a player, the 56-year-old spent time in the Montreal Canadiens front office for nine seasons.

That time came to an end in November 2021 after he fell out of contention for Montreal’s GM opening at the time. He has remained a candidate for GM jobs around the NHL since, however.

The former Atlanta Thrashers captain was a finalist for the San Jose Sharks GM job this past offseason. That job went to former NHL forward Mike Grier. Mellanby also interviewed with the Chicago Blackhawks for their opening in 2021.

Mellanby’s time with the Blues has allowed him to have his hands in all aspects of hockey operations. He brings a wealth of hockey knowledge to the table and could be a great fit for the Penguins.

1. Jason Botterill, Seattle Kraken assistant GM

And finally, we get to the candidate who is likely an early favorite for the position. Also a finalist for the San Jose Sharks opening along with Mellanby, Botterill has ties to the Penguins organization.

Botterill joined the Penguins back in 2007 as Director of Hockey Administration. Pittsburgh promoted him to assistant GM in May 2009 after Chuck Fletcher left for the Minnesota Wild.

In 2017, Botterill left the organization to become GM of the Buffalo Sabres. He lost the job in June 2020 after the team failed to make much progress. Funny how perspective works in hindsight, isn’t it?

The Sabres are coming off a highly promising season, and many of their key contributors are players brought in by Botterill. There are the obvious players such as Rasmus Dahlin, but it goes even deeper than that.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, a second-round pick in 2017, looks to be the team’s goalie of the future. Mattias Samuelsson, drafted 32nd overall in 2018, has also made a major impact.

Of course, there’s the matter of Tage Thompson. Thompson has emerged as the NHL’s next big star in recent years, scoring 47 goals this season for the Sabres. He came over in the Ryan O’Reilly trade with the St. Louis Blues in 2018.

This isn’t to say the Sabres were wrong for firing Botterill. All this means is that the former Buffalo GM deserves a second chance to run his own show. If the Penguins give him time, they could turn this thing around sooner rather than later.

The post 3 best candidates to replace Ron Hextall as Pittsburgh Penguins GM appeared first on ClutchPoints.

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