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Why ex-Maple Leafs Noel Acciari Landed with the Penguins

The Toronto Maple Leafs might have wanted to keep Noel Acciari with them this season, but he went to the Pittsburgh Penguins. How come?

It didn’t take physical forward Noel Acciari and former-Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas long to build a relationship. As a result, Acciari was influenced enough that, when Dubas moved to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it also didn’t take Acciari long to follow.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Nylander, Klingberg & Timmins

Acciari on His Free Agency Move to the Penguins

The fact of the matter is straightforward. Acciari’s free agency decision was influenced by a significant relationship with former Maple Leafs Dubas. In this post, I’ll share how the bond between the two – player and GM – played a crucial role in the forward’s move to the Penguins.

Kyle Dubas introduced a President of Hockey Ops for the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Trade That Brought Acciari to Toronto

Noel Acciari’s journey with the Maple Leafs began with a trade that brought him to Canada. The experience of playing for the iconic Maple Leafs left a lasting impression. At the end of the season, he expressed a desire to return to the team during media interviews.

However, things changed rapidly when Kyle Dubas, the man who traded for Acciari, stepped down from his role as GM and was hired by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Connection with Kyle Dubas

While the change in management for Dubas was a surprise (probably to both player and GM), Acciari and Dubas had formed a special connection during their time together in Toronto. This relationship ultimately influenced Acciari’s decision in free agency. When Dubas took on the position of president of hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins, that move became a key factor in Acciari’s choice.

The Plan for Pittsburgh

Acciari revealed that Dubas played a significant role in luring him to Pittsburgh. Dubas shared his plans for the Penguins with Acciari. In doing so, Dubas showed him the team’s ambitions and told the gritty forward where he would fit into the Penguins’ system. The vision laid out by Dubas impressed Acciari, who saw the potential for his own success in Pittsburgh.

Related: Insider Lists 6 Reasons Maple Leafs Should Trade Nylander

Acciari Signs a Substantial Contract (that Didn’t Hurt, Either)

Acciari quickly signed a three-year deal with an average annual value of $2 million. While that term and number might be surprising for what a bottom-six forward who doesn’t score much might bring, Acciari is impressive with his motor. He just doesn’t stop working on the ice.

As a result, Dubas was confident enough in Acciari to put the amount of money on the contract. Acciari quickly signed. The Penguins new President of Hockey Operations (who’s currently acting as the team’s GM) believes in Acciari’s abilities both on and off the ice. His defensive skills and ability to contribute offensively made him an attractive addition to the team.

Former Teammate Brandon Tanev Also Helped Persuade Acciari

In addition to his bond with Dubas, Acciari has a strong relationship with former Penguins forward (now with the Seattle Kraken) Brandon Tanev. That relationship also played a role in the new Penguins’ decision-making process. Tanev wanted to lure him to Washington state; however, he also spoke highly about playing in Pennsylvania.

Tanev and Acciari played together at Providence College. He specifically noted how special it was to play in Pittsburgh. That positive testimonial added weight to the appeal of Pittsburgh as a destination.

The Bottom Line

Acciari’s free agency move to the Penguins was not solely about his salary. Instead, it was influenced by the personal connection he forged with Dubas and the encouragement of former teammate Tanev.

The vision presented by the Penguins to Acciari made him feel as if the Penguins were the ideal fit for him as a 31-year-old forward. For those Maple Leafs’ fans who appreciated Acciari’s work in Toronto, they wish him luck with the Penguins.

Perhaps the two teams might meet in the postseason this year. That could be fun.




  1. Pingback: Bedard Signs Entry-Level Deal w/ Blackhawks on 18th Birthday

  2. gfinale

    July 17, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Yep, good luck Acciari. Would have been nice to have him around but couldn’t fit it in I guess.

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