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Dubas: Guentzel trade talk is 'pure speculation'

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Kyle Dubas insists there's nothing legitimate about the notion that he might trade Jake Guentzel.

The Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations and general manager denied exploring that possibility and clarified recent remarks made by Guentzel's agent that may have inadvertently raised some eyebrows.

"I don't think that Ben Hankinson with his comments a few weeks ago meant for it to kind of develop into the level of noise it's gotten to," Dubas said Wednesday on "The GM Show," a team-produced podcast. "Just in knowing Ben and how much he cares about his clients, and about Jake and my relationship with him, I don't think that was his intention whatsoever.

"I think a lot of people have tried to say that when he said 'it could get ugly,' that was about the contract. I don't think so. I think he was more talking about ... the team and where it's going to go in the next several seasons. So I didn't take it as offensive or as anything other than Ben trying to do right by his client."

Dubas then stated he hasn't talked to other clubs about Guentzel's potential availability.

"We haven't had any conversations with any other teams about Jake, so anything that's out there is pure speculation," the executive said. "That's really as simple as that. We'll continue to go through the season here and I'll continue to evaluate where we're at, and then either at the All-Star break or after the season, we'll do what's best for everybody - best for the Penguins, best for Jake - and we'll determine that together."

Guentzel is a pending unrestricted free agent who will be one of the most coveted players if he does hit the market. His current deal carries a cap hit of $6 million, and the Penguins have about $65 million committed to other players next season, with only Jeff Carter, Alex Nedeljkovic, and other role players left to sign aside from Guentzel, according to CapFriendly.

The 29-year-old forward has 19 goals and 27 assists over 42 games in 2023-24. He's in his eighth campaign with the Pens, who drafted him 77th overall in 2013. The Nebraska-born winger has shown continued chemistry with Sidney Crosby over the years, burying at least 36 goals in three of those seasons, including 40 on two occasions.

The Penguins have an aging core, but a playoff spot is still a realistic goal for a squad that entered Thursday sitting fourth in the Metropolitan Division at 21-15-6.

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