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Jake Guentzel has ankle surgery, to miss start of season

Important news for the Pens, who take a hit in the off-season

NHL: MAR 30 Predators at Penguins Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Breaking news in the summer can be a good thing in hockey if it’s for a trade or adding a free agent. It’s not usually injury related. This time, for the Penguins, the breaking news is injury related.

12 weeks from August 2nd would be October 25th. The Penguins’ regular season begins on October 10th.

The news is surprising — Guentzel had been on the ice as recently as last week in Minnesota, but it was decided that an injury wasn’t healing well or quickly enough on its own and required surgery.

GM Kyle Dubas released a statement from the Penguins on twitter (text posted in case that service is screwy):

“As Jake continued to increase the intensity of his preparation for the upcoming season, it was apparent that his ankle injury was not resolving in a way that was satisfactory to he or the Penguins.

In collaboration with Jake - his representative Ben Hankinson of Octagon Sports, the Penguins medical team led by Dr. Dharmesh Vyas of UPMC Sports Medicine, and Dr. Coetzee – it was decided that surgery would be the best way to ensure Jake would be at his best in 2023.2024.”

Tough break for Guentzel, who is entering a contract year in 2023-24. It won’t be started off on the right foot after this ankle surgery.

Guentzel was able to appear in 78 games for the Pens in 2022-23, and almost always on the left wing of Sidney Crosby. Since Guentzel won’t be available at the beginning of the season, it could be a golden opportunity for a winger like Andreas Johnsson, Alex Nylander or Valtteri Puustinen to get a bigger audition for a high-profile spot in the roster (either with Crosby, or back-filling for a position created by the player who does play with Crosby).

One slight piece of good news for the Pens is Guentzel’s unavailability for the beginning of the season also offers a short-term and temporary solution to their salary cap woes. However, given that they must be cap compliant when Guentzel is able to return, that doesn’t provide too big of a benefit for the big picture, besides taking off any immediate pressure that Dubas may have felt with his salary cap positioning.