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Ron Hextall is fastest Penguins GM to 100 wins

Monday’s 4-3 overtime win over the Ducks marked the 169th Penguins game of the Hextall era— and the 100th Penguins win.

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2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7
Ron Hextall takes a call at the Penguins draft table during the first round of the 2022 draft in Montreal on July 7.
Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images

Ray Shero reached the milestone in 176 games. Jim Rutherford did it in 177.

It took the Penguins just 169 games to mark their 100th win of the Ron Hextall era, making him the fastest general manager to reach triple-digit wins in franchise history, according to Pens PR.

Seeing as Hextall’s choices have been under fire lately with a thinned-out and struggling Penguins roster, it may seem like a strange time to celebrate— but there’s no denying the 4-3 overtime victory against the Ducks on Monday cemented Hextall’s place in franchise history.

In celebration of the milestone, let’s check in who on the Penguins have gained, and who they have lost, in the nine trades the team has undertaken since the Hextall era began in February 2021.

2022 NHL Draft - Round 2-7
Ron Hextall at the 2022 NHL Draft at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec on July 8, 2022.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Penguins lost under Hextall

Lucas Edmonds (2021 3rd-round draft pick): After the Penguins gave this pick to the Kings for Jeff Carter, the Kings traded it to the Lightning. Tampa used it to select a winger they had been scouting for several seasons, leading The Athletic to ask in August if Edmonds was about to become the Lightning’s next “mid-round draft gem.” He plays for the Syracuse Crunch and has not yet earned his first NHL call-up with an unassuming two goals in 21 games.

Jared McCann: McCann showed the Penguins why they should regret handing him off to be expansion-draft fodder in Toronto by exploding for a career-high 27 goals in Seattle last season. His performance this year is set to leave that total in the dust— he has already racked up 22 tallies through just 39 games.

Sam Lafferty: Never quite a permanent roster fixture in Pittsburgh, Lafferty has slotted into a regular spot centering a fourth line for the league-bottom Chicago Blackhawks since last year’s mid-season trade. He has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 35 games so far.

Liam Arnsby (2022 7th-round draft pick): Selected at 214th overall by the Panthers in 2022, Arnsby is wearing the “C” for the OHL’s North Bay Battalion for the second consecutive season this year. His “high energy” isn’t yet reflected in his production, says SB Nation’s Litter Box Cats.

Dominik Simon: Since last year’s mid-season trade to the Ducks, Simon made 17 appearances (with four assists to show for it) in Anaheim, left the IIHF World Championship in May after “trying to provoke a fight” with Czech Republic teammate and Detroit Red Wing Filip Hronek, then turned down an offer from the Penguins— reportedly one encouraged by noted Simon fan Mike Sullivan— to play with a Czech team this season.

Zach Aston-Reese: After Aston-Reese’s contract ended in Anaheim last season, a PTO with the Maple Leafs turned into a regular spot on the fourth line. It’s the same old story for Aston-Reese— not much offense, but defensively solid. Recent illnesses in in Toronto have him moving up to the third line, where his lack of production might come under the scrutiny of Toronto fans’ waiting microscopes.

Nashville Predators v Toronto Maple Leafs
Zach Aston-Reese skates with the puck against the Nashville Predators in Toronto, Ontario on January 11.
Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images

Calle Clang: The Ducks signed goaltender Clang to a three-year entry-level contract after the Penguins traded his rights alongside Simon and Aston-Reese in the Rakell trade. Right now he remains on loan in the Swedish Hockey League, where he has played as backup for the past two seasons. He isn’t likely to come to North America until 2023-24, but when he does cross the pond, most scouts project him to succeed as an NHL goaltender.

Tristan Luneau (2022 2nd-round draft pick): Luneau, the draft pick included in the Rakell trade which Last Word on Sports describes as a “strong two-way defender” in the QMJHL, is on pace for a career-best 70 points with the Gatineau Olympiques this season, says Elite Prospects.

Liam Gorman: Gorman was drafted by the Penguins in the 2018 sixth round before being swapped with the Blackhawks in July for a 2022 sixth-round pick. The center is currently in his senior year at Princeton, where he plays with his brother Brendan.

Mike Matheson: It’s been a rough season so far for Matheson. After missing some games earlier this season, the Canadiens announced the defender would be “out indefinitely” with a lower-body injury in December. He’s only skated in 10 games so far this season.

John Marino: Marino went on the injured reserve with an upper-body injury in December, but before then shone as one of New Jersey’s strongest players during the 13-game November win streak during which he provided “very strong two-way play,” says Pucks and Pitchforks.

Columbus Blue Jackets v New Jersey Devils
John Marino celebrates his first goal as a Devil with New Jersey’s Jack Hughes on October 30, 2022.
R at the Prudential Center on October 30, 2022 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Penguins gained under Hextall

Jeff Carter: Since being signed to a two-year, $3.125 million contract this summer, Carter has been struggling to drive play on the third line. Now, he is trying out a new position on wing as the Penguins shuffle their slumping bottom six.

Filip Hallander: Hallander, who the Penguins received alongside a 2023 7th round pick in exchange for Jared McCann in summer 2021, has spent the last two seasons with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He made a brief appearance in two Penguins games in November, then was set to eclipse last AHL season’s total of 28 points— he already had 25 through 26 games (8 goals, 17 assists)— before he suffered a serious injury which caused him to be stretchered off the ice on January 7.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Toronto Maple Leafs
Filip Hallander skates for the Penguins against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, Ontario on November 11, 2022.
Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images

Alex Nylander: Nylander, a six-year AHL veteran, is having what could be a career year in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where the winger currently leads the team with 14 goals in 34 games. He has not seen any NHL action since he skated in 65 games and scored 10 goals for the Blackhawks in 2019-2020.

Nate Beaulieu: Beaulieu was picked up in late spring 2022 in order to be a playoff option for the Penguins defense corps, but he did not end up making an appearance in an abruptly-ended postseason. He left the Penguins as a free agent and is now a frequent healthy scratch for the struggling Anaheim Ducks.

Rickard Rakell: Since he joined the Penguins last March, Rakell has 19 goals and 20 assists in 61 games. That’s nothing to sneeze at— it’s fourth only to Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin.

Nolan Collins (2022 6th round draft pick): The 18-year-old Collins started out the Pensburgh Top 25 Under 25 countdown this summer as a noted Big Defenseman who excelled at physical play but could use some polishing on offense. So far he’s done his best by matching last year’s goals output (four) in half the season so far.

Ryan Poehling: He’s been injured since December, but Poehling’s ice time has dipped throughout the season. In five of the eight games he played in December, he was on the ice for under 10 minutes in a worrying indication of the weakness of the Penguins’ bottom six has been.

Jeff Petry: Before going on the injured reserve with a long-term upper-body injury in December, Petry had become a key piece of the Penguins’ defense. His ability to handle top minutes, and his right-handed-ness, have been sorely missed in the absence of both him and Kris Letang.

NHL: NOV 09 Penguins at Capitals
Jeff Petry and Rickard Rakell skate against the Capitals in Washington DC on November 9, 2022.
Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With thin defensive corps and shaky goaltending depth exposed by current absences from the lineup, Hextall’s job security could depend on his trading ability.

When looking at who he’s brought to Pittsburgh— and who he’s sent away— over the past two years, how confident do you feel about his next move in the wake of the Penguins’ 100th win under his tenure?