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Penguins and Capitals Make Splashes for Postseason Return

Penguins and Capitals Make Splashes: The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals had their long postseason stints ending in an instant last season following lackluster performances. The Penguins were close to making the playoffs, finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference with a 40-31-11 (win-loss-overtime losses) record. This is the first time Pittsburgh failed to make the playoffs after 16 consecutive postseason appearances. The Capitals were worse as they finished 13th with a 35-37-10 mark. The result ended Washington’s eight straight playoff stints. The failure to make 2022-23 season playoffs has forced both teams to make a splash in the postseason. Both teams hope the moves they made would help them return to the playoffs and restore their prominence in the NHL betting list for the 2023-24 season.

Penguins and Capitals Make Splashes: Penguins Land Erik Karlsson

The Pittsburgh Penguins has started retooling their roster under their general manager and president of hockey operations Kyle Dubas. The first-year team official pulled off a trade that gained three-time Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson from the San Jose Sharks as part of a blockbuster three-team deal that also involved the Montreal Canadiens. Pittsburgh will get a defenseman who produced career-highs in goals (25) and points (101) with the Sharks in 2022-23 season. He will now be part of the reconfigured Penguins’ blue line that will also have Ryan Graves.

Pittsburgh hopes that Karlsson’s acquisition will help them restore their north-south speed game that helped the team win consecutive titles in 2016 and 2017. The Swedish hockey star is entering his 15th season in the league and is showing no signs of letting down. Last year, he averaged 25:37 of ice time while playing all 82 games. Penguins coach Mike Sullivan will likely adjust the lineup to find Karlsson an appropriate partner when training camp kicks off in September. He is set to try out Graves or Marcus Pettersson as his blue line running-mate.

Acquiring Karlsson is Dubas’ biggest move in the early hours of the offseason. The four-year deal will boost the blue line without opting for a rebuild. This also sends a message to the Penguins’ top stars Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang that they are serious in returning to the playoffs immediately. The new general manager and hockey operations chief aims to make the Penguins relevant again after last year’s debacle. Dubas expects Karlsson as a short-term boost, as he tries to help the team get back in the Stanley Cup mix.

Capitals Sign Wilson to Seven-year Extension

Washington extended power-forward Tom Wilson to a seven-year extension in a move that speaks volumes about the team’s future after longtime captain Alexander Ovechkin. The decision to extend Wilson, whose US$45.5-million deal will take effect in the 2024-25 season, will keep him in the Capitals lineup for a longer period of time. This will help him learn the leadership skills needed for the squad as Thomas is groomed to become the team’s next captain, replacing Ovechkin, who is signed for three more years.

Washington are not done for the offseason as they signed winger Max Pacioretty and traded for defenseman Joel Edmuundson. However, there are reports that they might ship Evgeny Kuznetsov to a new team. Kuznetsov has two more years remaining in his contract but he is set to affect the salary cap by about US$7.8 million. Another player who is part of the trade rumors is Anthony Mantha, who has underachieved last season. According to Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan, the team is in talks at the draft and is ready to retool the team in case the player they need is available for a trade.

Coyotes Snap up Dumba for US$3.9 Million

Matt Dumba will take his talents to Arizona as the Coyotes signed the veteran defenseman to a one-year deal. The US$3.9-million transaction will help the team fill up the blue line and bring veteran leadership to the young squad. The former King Clancy Memorial Trophy winner had four goals and 14 assists in 79 games last season. Dumba played 10 seasons with Minnesota after the Wild selected him in the 2012 NHL draft.

He was the alternate captain for the squad for the past two seasons and developed himself as a two-way defenseman. Dumba scored 20 points at least seven times and according to Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong, he is talented, physical and reliable, as well as a great leader who will add a defensive presence to the team’s blue line. The 29-year-old will play alongside Sean Durzi, Alex Kerfoot, Jason Zucker and Nick Bjugstad, who was his former teammate with the Wild. The Coyotes are set to surprise everyone in the Western Conference with the addition of Dumba. The defensive boost is expected to help the team become one of the favorites in the online sportsbooks that cover the NHL.