Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager Ron Hextall had a busy offseason during the summer of 2022 as he had to sign various top-end players and depth pieces to keep the team a Stanley Cup contender. As soon as the Penguins season ended in May of 2022, Hextall immediately transitioned towards trying to figure out how to keep the team afloat for the last few years of the Sidney Crosby era. In total, the team had nine unrestricted free agents (UFA’s) and two restricted free agents (RFA’s) that needed new contracts for the 2022-23 NHL season. With big contracts expiring, the team had upwards of $30 million in cap space heading into the summer to make trades and sign players. These moves made by Hextall are all over the map in the sense that some were great while others made no sense. All in all, the Penguins signed 17 players this summer. Here is how these deals are shaping up 20% through the NHL season.


Hextall Masterclass

To start, Hextall absolutely nailed a few of these moves. Rickard Rakell is a player that was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks during the trade deadline in March of 2022. He built instant chemistry with Sidney Crosby and tallied 13 points in 19 games after he was traded. On July 11th, 2022, he was signed to a six-year, $30 million contract, which has been well worth it as one of the most consistent players on the team thus far. On pace for 36 goals, he continues to thrive and has shown his high IQ hockey ability in difficult situations.

Pierre-Olivier Joseph (POJ) was acquired back in 2019 when the Penguins traded Phil Kessel to the Arizona Coyotes. As a young player, he has spent a majority of his time in the American Hockey League (AHL) since he was acquired, with 20 games in the NHL. After a solid year in the minors, Hextall decided to bring him back and give him a full-time spot on the roster. Signed to a two-year, $1.65M deal, POJ has been a staple on the third pair. Not only has he been impressive, but he leads the defenseman in major analytical categories such as Corsi-for percentage (171 shot attempts for and 134 against at 5v5) and goals-for percentage (eight goals for and three against at 5v5).

Danton Heinen put up 18 goals and 33 points in his first full season with the team and was headed to free agency. For a depth player that was mostly playing on the third line, he produced at a consistent pace throughout the season. Somehow, the Penguins were able to bring him back with a one-year, $1 million contract, which is proving to become a solid deal as Heinen is now on pace for 36 points.