Just as suddenly as news came in almost two weeks ago that Jim Rutherford had resigned, Tuesday afternoon Hockey Twitter was ablaze: the Penguins hire Ron Hextall as the new general manager. This may come as a bit of a shock to long-time Pens fans who haven’t really followed his post-playing career. After all, Hextall made his name as the long-time backstop for the rival Flyers. He also spent 2014-2018 as Flyers GM, and essentially made that team into what they are today. So what can fans expect from Hextall moving forward?

His Track Record

Penguins new hire, Hextall
The Penguins hire former Philadelphia Flyers goaltender and general manager Ron Hextall to fill their GM vacancy.

After being promoted to GM in 2014, Hextall immediately began what would essentially be his calling card: building through the draft. He selected Travis Sanheim, who is now a cornerstone of the Flyers defense. He also picked Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Oskar Lindblom, who have become rather important depth players for the team. The next season, his first two picks became roster main-stays: Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny. In 2016, he selected now-franchise goaltender Carter Hart. 2017 garnered current second-line center Nolan Patrick. In his last draft with the organization, he selected Joel Farabee.

Looking down that list, every draft has landed at least one if not two solid roster players. He’s proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he can identify talent and build a team. Is that something that the Penguins need right now though?

How He Can Help

As of right now, the Penguins’ farm system is in shambles. The Athletic had them ranked 29th coming into the season. Hextall will be able to address this almost immediately. While he won’t have a first-round pick at his disposal this year, his ability to identify and develop talent should see the farm team shore up in short order.

While having a good prospect pool is necessary for future success, this team is structured to win now. In his introductory press conference, he addressed this dichotomy. “We will keep an eye on the future, obviously, and try and grab some assets here and there. But we’ve also got to put the best team (on the ice). You’ve got players like Malkin and Crosby and (Kris Letang). We want to be as good as we can be right now with three of the top players in the world.”

Right now, that’s about as much as a fan could reasonably hope for. Will it be a 180-degree difference from GMJR? Absolutely, but maybe that’s exactly what this team needs right now.

I’m JB, the newest addition to the BellyUp Hockey team. I’ll be covering the Penguins, as well as any big news or matchups in the NHL. Follow @MrJBalint for Penguins and general NHL news and updates.
About Author

Jim Balint

Michigan born and raised. The first hockey game I recall watching was Mario Lemieux scoring five goals five different ways. Much to the chagrin of my friends and family, that was all it took, and I've been a Penguins fan ever since.

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