Controversy Erupts Over Ron Hextall's Baffling Almost-Trade Fiasco

Marc El Khoury
April 4, 2023  (9:27 PM)

Trade Rumors Abound

Hockey insider Frank Seravalli reported that Hextall allegedly attempted to trade Penguins' star player Jason Zucker at this year's trade deadline. Zucker has an impressive record of 26 goals and 20 assists this season.
The potential trade left fans baffled, especially considering Hextall's refusal to give up a first-round pick. This has led to questions about why Hextall didn't use that pick to acquire star defenseman Jacob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes before he was traded to the Ottawa Senators.

Growing Calls for Hextall's Ouster

While the trade never materialized, it's not the first time fans have demanded Hextall's firing this season. Many voiced their dissatisfaction with Hextall's acquisitions at the trade deadline.
The first acquisition involved trading a 2023 second-round pick to the Nashville Predators for forward Mikael Granlund, who holds a $5M contract. Since joining the Penguins, Granlund has scored 1 goal and 3 assists, adding to his 9 goals and 27 assists with the Predators this season.
The second acquisition saw the Anaheim Ducks trade defenseman Dmitry Kulikov to the Penguins in exchange for Brock McGinn and a 2024 third-round pick. Kulikov contributed only one assist to his 3 goals and 13 assists with the Ducks this season before suffering an injury just 4 games into his Penguins tenure.
The least controversial move by Hextall was reacquiring former Penguin Nick Bonino in a trade that sent a 2023 7th round pick to San Jose. Unfortunately, Bonino experienced a lacerated kidney in his third game back with Pittsburgh, and both he and Kulikov have yet to return to the ice.
Some fans have even speculated that Hextall, a former Philadelphia Flyers insider, is sabotaging the Penguins from within.

Hextall's Initial Misstep

Discontent with Hextall dates back to the 2021 offseason when forward Jared McCann was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2023 7th round pick and former Penguins prospect Filip Hallander. Fans speculate that Hextall traded McCann to protect then 36-year-old Jeff Carter from the expansion draft over then 25-year-old McCann.
Subsequently, the Maple Leafs failed to protect McCann in Seattle's expansion draft, allowing Seattle GM and former Penguin Ron Francis to claim him. McCann now boasts 37 goals and 25 assists in 73 games this season.
This has undoubtedly left the Penguins and their fans with a bitter taste in their mouths.