Penguins forward Jake Guentzel out at least 12 weeks after ankle surgery: What’s next for Pittsburgh?


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Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jake Guentzel underwent right ankle surgery on Wednesday, the team announced Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Guentzel, who was playing in summer league games as recently as Tuesday, will be re-evaluated in 12 weeks. The 2023-24 NHL season opens on Oct. 10.
  • Dr. Chris Coetzee at Twin Cities Orthopedics performed the procedure.
  • Guentzel, 28, put up 73 points (36 goals, 37 assists) in 78 games last season.

What they’re saying

Pittsburgh president of hockey operations and general manager Kyle Dubas said that as Guentzel “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.” Dubas added: “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.”

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

What does this mean for the Penguins?

Simply? A lot.

An awful lot.

Guentzel is their most productive winger, and captain Sidney Crosby’s go-to guy on the top line. There is no on-roster and/or in-system replacement. The Penguins will be worse at scoring five-on-five and on the power play, making the likelihood for a hot start during a schedule-friendly opening month a lot less likely.

Also, Guentzel is entering the final season of his contract. This injury couldn’t come at a worse time for him.

He’ll essentially be starting training from scratch during the season. And it’s widely presumed ankle/foot surgeries are the worst from which to come back during the season. — Rossi

What to look for from Dubas

Saturday begins a 48-hour window for a second buyout. The obvious target would be forward Mikael Granlund, who had a miserable month-plus after joining from the Nashville Predators in a divisive trade made by former GM Ron Hextall.

Whether Dubas would use that buyout now is a fair question. Granlund didn’t show much last season, but he has been a top-six forward much of his career. He still possesses average-to-above playmaking and he’s a responsible defensive player. But his regression as a skater and shooter makes him less than an ideal replacement for Guentzel. — Rossi

Any silver lining for Pittsburgh?

An optimist might point out that Granlund, if kept, is positioned to put up some points and show he’s not done as an NHL top-nine player. If so, that would make shedding his contract easier — and the Penguins would benefit from feeling themselves from his $5 million cap hit.

Also, this development with Guentzel could push Dubas to go even harder after Erik Karlsson, whom he covets. Karlsson is the type of rarefied defenseman who can dominate offensively — and the Penguins, despite their talented (but aging) nucleus, suddenly need an impact player such as Karlsson. — Rossi


The 2017 Stanley Cup champion is entering the final season of a five-year, $30 million contract. Guentzel has played his entire career in Pittsburgh after the Penguins selected him with the 77th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Required reading

(Photo: Jerome Miron / USA Today)

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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