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How Strange: Ex-Maple Leafs GM Dubas Trading for Prospects?

With the Toronto Maple Leafs, GM, Kyle Dubas traded away prospects and draft picks. What’s changed with the Pittsburgh Penguins?

In a surprising move, Kyle Dubas has changed his stripes. The former general manager (GM) of the Toronto Maple Leafs traded away prospects and draft picks for established players at the trade deadline. Now, with his team facing a different agenda, he seems to have reversed his strategy. With the Pittsburgh Penguins, Dubas has opted to trade away established players in exchange for prospects as part of a rebuild.

Related: Hurricanes Land Jake Guentzel: Full Details Of Multi-Layered Trade

The Trade: Jake Guentzel for Prospects & Michael Bunting

The Penguins made a significant trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. They acquired three prospects, two draft choices, and an established NHL player. The prospects were Cruz Lucius, Vasily Ponomarev, and Ville Koivunen. The draft choices were a conditional 2024 first-round pick and a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick. The established NHL player was former Maple Leafs Calder candidate Michael Bunting.

In return, the Penguins sent Jake Guentzel and Ty Smith to the Hurricanes.

Michael Bunting and Kyle Dubas Penguins trade

Closer Look: What Dubas Trade Picks up for Penguins

Let me take a closer look at the prospects involved in the trade.

Prospect One: Cruz Lucius

Cruz Lucius, a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, remains unsigned. He’s playing for the University of Wisconsin. He brings solid scoring skills demonstrated in NCAA hockey. The 19-year-old winger projects to be a middle-six playmaker role in the NHL. That said, it might take a few years before he’s ready.

Prospect Two: Vasily Ponomarev

Vasily Ponomarev is considered the most NHL-ready of the new Penguins’ prospects. He already made his NHL debut, playing two games for the Hurricanes. And, he’s shown promise with two points in those two games. What’s attractive about him is that he seems to be a 200-foot player, adept at both defense and playmaking. Look for him to slide into a third-line role with the Penguins behind established players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Lars Eller.

Prospect Three: Ville Koivunen

Koivunen is a top prospect from Finland’s Liiga who is playing exceedingly well. He has put up impressive stats with 21 goals and 34 assists (for 55 points) in 57 games for Karpat. Drafted in the second round in 2021, the 20-year-old winger is seen as a key piece for the Penguins’ rebuild. Fans should look for him to join the Penguins’ NHL roster soon.

Established NHL Player: Michael Bunting

While not a prospect, Bunting adds depth to the Penguins’ roster. No surprise that Dubas wanted Bunting. He brought him to the Maple Leafs and probably appreciates his grit and scoring ability. He put up 36 points in 60 games for the Hurricanes; however, the 28-year-old winger will contribute more significantly with the Penguins. He’ll get a chance to play much higher in the lineup. Also, look for him to join the Penguins’ top six and get lots of minutes on the power play.

Related: What’s Concerning About the Maple Leafs Loss to the Bruins?

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