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The Penguins signing Jeff Carter to an extension Wednesday should not have surprised anyone. Despite Carter’s age, GM Ron Hextall since the summer has viewed Carter as a big part of this core, on and off the ice.

Hextall has a close relationship with Carter’s agent Rich Curran and the two sides broached the possibility back in the summer as the Penguins have firmly believed since last season that Carter had impact years left in him.

Carter, 37, has 12 goals and 14 points in 36.

Is paying Carter top-9 money through age 39 going to be a great investment after this season?

Most likely not.

But, Carter was the easiest piece of business to deal with first for the Penguins brass as the organization’s thinking on how to build around this group has shifted over the last month.

On the job for about a year now, 6-9 months ago, most in the Hextall/Burke inner circle believed the summer of 2022 was going to be more about the need for a re-tool than lets keep this thing going which is what the Hextall/Burke regime has decided on.

They believe the window is still open to compete for a Stanley Cup for the next 2-3 years with the level Sidney Crosby is playing at and the coach/structure of the team that’s in place.

But, are they 100% on board that keeping the gang completely together is the right move moving forward after being on the fence about it for several months?

Time will tell, but a Jeff Carter decision is a lot different than the financial commitment it will take to resign Kris Letang, Bryan Rust and Evgeni Malkin.

However, one thing that hasn’t changed is Hextall/Burke are not going to rip everything up of wanting to build the prospect base and draft capital up for a playoff run.

The thinking continues to be drastically different than what it would be under Jim Rutherford who was always wired to do what you have to do to win another Stanley Cup, regardless of the negative impact it will have on the future.

Despite the Penguins looking everything of a Cup contender, Hextall/Burke continue to preach internally that the right move is remaining cautious and smart on building around Sidney Crosby’s final elite couple seasons.

With a bottom-5 prospect system, the belief in the organization continues to be that with the new ownership in place that is more willing to dip their pockets into the signing bonus game, the best route To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!