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Ron Hextall sounds reasonably happy with his forward depth

Or at least is convincing saying so in public on 93.7 The Fan’s Morning Show on Monday

Calgary Flames v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

Ron Hextall was on Audacy’s 93.7 The Fan today on The Fan Morning show with with Colin Dunlap and Chris Mack. It’s always interesting when he speaks to the media, since it doesn’t happen too often. Here’s how you can listem

Hextall responded to the Penguins’ getting older this off-season by pointing out that the team is high on Ryan Poehling and Ty Smith, two players in the 22-23 year old range that have played NHL games. On this front, he’s right, because Pittsburgh didn’t have too many young players last year in the organization capable of logging NHL games.

When it came to forward depth, this might be in the “for what it’s worth” category but Hextall said that he likes his forward group as of now. And his recent signee Josh Archibald was also top of mind.

(As an aside, I think Pittsburgh fans have the 2014-17 version of Archibald in their mind as the tweener guy who bounced between the NHL and AHL and couldn’t really find a role. Archibald hasn’t played in the AHL since the fall of 2017, for better or worse he’s in his NHL phase right now, and clearly seen by management as NHL material for next season).

Other than Archibald and Poehling, the Pens like Drew O’Connor with his size and speed and he should get a long look in camp with a real chance to make the team.

It could mean a little, it could mean a lot, but as of now it seems like Hextall is fairly comfortable (or just doing a good job keeping it close to the vest) if the team starts out with options like Archibald, Poehiling and O’Connor to join Teddy Blueger on the fourth line next season. That would leave Jeff Carter, Brock McGinn and the still-to-be-signed Kasperi Kapanen for the third line.

When asked about the Evgeni Malkin negotiation, Hextall did not feel that things got contentious between the team and the player’s side.

“Geno’s representatives were good, very professional,” Hextall said. “These guys, they get to a point where they’ve the right to unrestricted free agency, so if they choose to go there that is a right that they’ve earned. But in saying that, we’re certainly happy Geno made the decision to come back and finish his career with the Penguins.”

When it came to current salary cap space, Hextall cited the flat cap as a challenge for the team and that the Pens are “in reasonable shape” to get and stay under the cap moving forward.

Hextall likes the team’s defensive depth and doesn’t think it will be a problem to navigate getting under the cap with nine players they have right not. Newly acquired Ty Smith can be sent to the AHL without waivers, if they want to go that route.

Overall, Hextall is a manager who wanted to and was able to shake up his group and change the makeup of his defense. He accomplished that over the weekend with two trades that altered the team, but perhaps over the summer we will see just how comfortable he actually if with his forward group, without the benefit of much cap room to make many more changes.