PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins were handed some bad news on Friday.

Jake Guentzel will be out to start the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins after having right ankle surgery. He'll be reevaluated in about 12 weeks.

It is a blow to a squad that has come to rely on Guentzel as their best forward not named Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. 

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Guentzel scored 36 times last season, leading the Penguins in goals and finishing third in points behind Crosby and Malkin.

Replacing him is easier said than done, and Kyle Dubas will be tasked with finding reinforcements. 

"You're losing a big chunk of production to start the season," notes Locked on Penguins co-host Patrick Damp. "We're either going to have to see some offense by committee here or someone's really going to have to step up out of camp."

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Co-host Hunter Hodies suggests Drew O'Connor might have the offensive upside to hang with Crosby in the interim, while Damp doubts newcomer Reilly Smith has the wherewithal to hang on the top line for an extended period of time.

They could sign a forward, or perhaps use that extra cap space to swing the long-talked about Erik Karlsson trade, but the Penguins must of course make sure they will still be salary cap compliant once Guentzel is healthy.

It is worth noting Guentzel can become an unrestricted free agent next summer, so the injury could affect his value, but he has more than proven his worth to the Penguins at this point.

Also, all of these decisions will be on Dubas' shoulders as he has decided to take on the duties of general manager on top of his role as president of hockey operations.

The Penguins were not a playoff team last season, of course, and being without Geuntzel to start the season certainly won't help them get off to the best possible start.

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