June 25, 2024

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 26: Jake Guentzel #59 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the Colorado Avalanche at PPG PAINTS Arena on October 26, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

Despite acquiring Erik Karlsson in a summer trade with hopes of achieving top honors, the Pittsburgh Penguins have faced challenges. In addition to this, Jake Guentzel has reportedly declined a contract offer of $8.5 million per season for a six-year term, as per Nick Kypreos on his Real Kyper and Bourne podcast.

Frank Seravalli, from Daily Faceoff, provided insights on the Penguins’ predicament during the podcast. As a 29-year-old elite player, Jake Guentzel is likely seeking a lucrative, long-term contract, preferably an eight-year deal. His current contract, expiring at the end of the season, pays him $6 million per season. If Guentzel continues to reject Pittsburgh’s offers, he can explore the free-agent market without compensation.

Seravalli proposes a straightforward solution: the Penguins must decide whether to commit to a playoff push with Guentzel in the lineup and potentially lose him afterward, or explore trading him before the trade deadline to mitigate the consequences in the coming years.

The Pittsburgh Penguins are anticipated to face significant challenges in the coming years as key players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Erik Karlsson approach the end of their playing careers. Without proper preparation for a rebuild, the organization could encounter difficulties akin to the current situation of the Chicago Blackhawks. Unlike the Blackhawks, who benefited from securing Connor Bedard, the Penguins might not be as fortunate. Therefore, maximizing their chances by acquiring future assets through a potential trade involving Jake Guentzel is crucial. The Penguins find themselves six points outside the playoffs despite possessing offensive firepower, indicating that the window for championship contention may have closed. While they may still qualify for the playoffs, sacrificing the future for one last Stanley Cup push may not be a prudent decision.

Jake Guentzel’s decision to reject a substantial contract offer suggests that he may not want to spend his final years as the lone standout player on a team consistently near the bottom of the standings. Additionally, exploring free agency could potentially lead to a more lucrative deal for Guentzel. The Penguins now face a pivotal decision regarding Guentzel’s future, recognizing that his departure may have immediate repercussions but could be a prudent move for the team in the coming seasons.

Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

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