Pittsburgh’s 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils should be another reality check for the organization of how big of a gap there is between the Penguins and the top-6 teams in the Eastern Conference.

The 2014-2015 season was the last time the Penguins were this late into a season where the roster and style of play gave a bleak feeling where they had little chance to win a round or be competitive. At least then the core was in their late 20’s and Marc Ande Fleury was the netminder and there was always some hope.

Stacked against the true six Eastern Conference Contenders, Boston, Carolina, New Jersey, Toronto, New York Rangers and Tampa Bay, this team inspires no hope and there’s a mountain to climb where you’re poorly constructed and can’t believe I’m saying this with Mike Sullivan at the helm, the Penguins are badly coached right now. There continues to be no urgency or desire to change the way they play from implementing system changes. It’s maddening.

For the Penguins to win four out of seven times against any hypothetical first-round matchup, they would need a miracle as in getting .940 type save percentage and just completely lights out special teams play game in and game out. If that gives you confidence in managing a team to go all-in at the deadline, go right ahead.

Will Hextall toe the line of Buyer-Seller?

Of course, Pittsburgh’s actions this summer was one of going All-In. They signed Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin into their 40’s, they went into uncomfortable range in term to resign Bryan Rust and Rickard Rakell. Then there’s the gamble the Penguins took of trading for 35 year old defenseman Jeff Petry whose best days are behind him. Pittsburgh got fooled by some computer telling them they should have been a three round team last post-season.

This is a lost season when it comes to truly competing for a Stanley Cup.

So what should Hextall do?

The right move looks to be to toe the line of buyer-seller. Many around the league believe in a sense that’s where Hextall’s head has been for weeks. On the rental market he’s been looking at some change of scenery type additions that could be added at a low cost and any type of aggressiveness on the market from Hextall has been more towards players with term, an area the Penguins have to make sure it’s the right fit and not get burned. Is there a way for the Penguins to move out 3-4 players, some with value, still make the playoffs by default and get stomped in round 1 like they will with or without these specific players? That’s the route to go.

Short-Term Moves to ponder between now and the Trade Deadline

Goaltending: This team is not worth it to trade your 2023 first round pick just to lose in five games in Round 1 anyways. What Hextall does owe this club is do something at the goaltending position and as in this week.

Jason Zucker: The Penguins need about three or four more Jason Zuckers but a decision needs to be made between now and the deadline on whether he’s part of the long-term plans or not. Zucker’s agent Eustance King rTo read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Stars remain interested in Jeff Petry? To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Gauge Brian Dumoulin’s Value: General Manager’s can get duped based on a players’ past performances and one name scouts feel would still hold value on the market is Brian Dumoulin. A league executive went as far to say he believes Pittsburgh could get a third-round pick for Dumoulin.

To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!