The Pittsburgh Penguins are gearing up for another season with new players on their roster. However, there will also be many familiar faces returning to the lineup. It can easily be argued that there are a few veteran players, who year after year, simply do not get the recognition they deserve. Here are the top three most underrated Penguins players.
1. Jake Guentzel
Since the 2016-17 season, Jake Guentzel has been an offensive powerhouse for the Penguins. Last season he played in 76 games and scored 40 goals for the second time in his career. During their seven-game playoff series with the Rangers, he also scored eight goals and 10 points.
Guentzel’s competitiveness and overall hockey sense make him the perfect partner for his current linemate and captain Sidney Crosby. He has always been a goal scorer for the Penguins, however, last year, he racked up a lot of assists ending the season with 44 in total, making him a point-per-game player for the first time in his career.
Despite having one of the best seasons of his career, Guentzel is still not getting the credit he deserves around the NHL. Penguins fans were surprised by a recent list of the top 20 wingers put out by NHL Network, which ranks him at number 14. It was clear that head coach Mike Sullivan was also surprised that his star forward did not make the top 10.
“He’s one of the few guys that can think the game on the same level as a player like Crosby.”@jakeguentz receives some pretty high praise from Mike Sullivan.@TonyLuftman | @Rupper17 | @penguins | #NHLTonight pic.twitter.com/RMCfZUVhlh— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) September 1, 2022
2. Tristan Jarry
The Penguins have a special player in starting goalie Tristan Jarry. Unfortunately, he never seems to get the credit he deserves. At 27 years old, he is in the prime of his career. He started 58 games last season and had a save percentage of .919. He missed most of the post-season due to a foot injury, however, he did play in Game 7 of his team’s first-round series against the New York Rangers even though he was clearly in pain.
Jarry finished sixth in the NHL last year in save percentage, sixth in goals allowed, eighth in goals saved, and seventh in the Vezina Trophy race. Despite all of this, he is still not expected to be regarded as one of the top 10 goaltenders next season.
The Penguins have a decision looming concerning Jarry as he is about to enter the final year of his current contract. He will become an unrestricted free agent next summer, and there will be a lot of teams interested in him. Should the Penguins just renew his contract now, or wait for him to prove himself? Next season will likely be a breakout year for Jarry, and Pittsburgh would be wise to lock him up right now.
3. Brian Dumoulin
Brian Dumoulin, a long-time defensive partner of Kris Letang, has been a constant in Pittsburgh for the past nine seasons. He has never been a big contributor on offense, however, his defensive game has been something the Penguins have relied on year after year, as his puck awareness and skating ability have made him an elite player in the NHL.
Over the past few seasons, Dumoulin has struggled to stay healthy, and as a result, his game has been affected. Last season it was apparent that he battled injuries for most of the year as he got beat to the front of the net more than a few times. During the offseason, he has been rehabbing his knee after tearing his MCL in Game 1 of the Penguins’ playoff series against the Rangers.
Pittsburgh made some major changes to their blue line over the offseason. The question facing them now is whether they should make a change to their top defensive pairing. Dumoulin is a player who has always flown under the radar. All great players have an off year at some point in their career. However, his resume speaks for itself, and the Penguins will find success with him this season. He has proven himself to be dependable, and the chemistry he shares with Letang cannot be easily replaced.
Penguins’ Future Looks Promising
There will be some new faces on the ice this October in Pittsburgh. The Penguins have had a busy offseason and added some pretty big names to their roster. They will need players like Guentzel and Jarry to continue to be big-time contributors, and it will be the seasoned veterans like Dumoulin the team will rely on to help them go the distance and make another run at the Stanley Cup.