The Pittsburgh Penguins are a storied franchise, with five Stanley Cups, and with legends among the likes of Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jaromir Jagr, it’s very easy to remember the household names that have played for this franchise. However, the team does have their fair share of players that may have been erased from your memory when they played there – here is my list of some of those active players.
Even though Patrick Marleau just recently played for the Penguins, being traded to them for a conditional 2021 third-round draft pick at the trade deadline last season, however, it’s likely you forgot about him, as he didn’t make much of an impact during his tenure. He played just eight regular-season contests and four playoff games for the team, recording a single goal, and just two points.
I was not a fan of the move right from the get-go as Marleau was not a player the Penguins needed – he was already declining at a pretty rapid pace, which has been evident this season in San Jose. He played a bottom-six role in the lineup, did not make any type of impact in the offensive or defensive zone, played at a slow pace, and really should have been scratched for a player like Evan Rodrigues at some point during the play-in series against the Montreal Canadiens.
Marleau himself likely even wants to forget about his time as a Penguin, as it was probably the worst stint of his Hall-of-Fame worthy career. Through his time in the NHL, he has played 1,779 games with the San Jose Sharks, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Penguins, amounting to 566 goals and 1,197 points. It is unfortunate he could never really bring that type of value to Pittsburgh, however with the COVID-19 stoppages, the weird playoff circumstances, and his older age, it was hard for him to ever adjust to the team’s fast playstyle. It’s not one of Jim Rutherford’s finest moves.
David Perron’s time was very bittersweet in Pittsburgh. After being traded from the Edmonton Oilers midway through the 2014-15 season for forward Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round draft choice in the 2015 draft, Perron spent about a year with the team, not really amounting to much. He had 16 goals and 38 points through 86 games with the Penguins, which is not terrible, but not worth what was given up for him.
To make matters worse, the pick that the Penguins moved for Perron just so happened to turn into Mathew Barzal when the Oilers traded it along with a second-round draft choice for Griffin Reinhart. Could you imagine Barzal playing with Crosby? There’s no guarantee the team would have even chosen him, but that is something to think about.
Just over a year after the Penguins traded for Perron, they moved him to the Anaheim Ducks with Adam Clendening for forward Carl Hagelin, who was vital for the back-to-back Stanley Cup runs, which makes matters better.
After stints with the Ducks and Vegas Golden Knights, Perron has found himself a home with the St. Louis Blues, spending the last three seasons there, with 67 goals and 164 points through 184 games played and won a Stanley Cup in 2019.
As a Penguins writer, I even forget about Thomas Greiss’ time in Pittsburgh. The German goaltender spent just 20 games with the team during the 2014-15 season, going 9-6-3 with a .908 save percentage (SV%) and a minus-5.82 goals saved above expected (GSAx). He didn’t do much to help the team, and was one of the more underwhelming backup goalies for the team in the last decade.
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After his stint in Pittsburgh, Greiss signed with the New York Islanders in free agency, where he spent five seasons, and was a part of the team that swept the Penguins during the 2018-19 season, and also won a William M. Jennings Trophy in that same year.
Now, Greiss plays for the Detroit Red Wings, where he will likely finish his career when his contract expires in 2021-22.
For a player whose most iconic moment as a Penguin was pranking Phil Kessel, it is pretty insane to me how loved Ryan Reaves was in Pittsburgh. He was acquired at the 2017 draft along with a second-round pick for a first-round pick and Oskar Sundqvist.
Reaves had four goals and eight points through 58 games with the Penguins during the 2017-18 season, being plastered to the fourth line and being given six or seven minutes per game by Mike Sullivan before being traded as part of a complicated three-way deal including the Ottawa Senators and Golden Knights.
Reaves still plays with the Golden Knights, filling in as an enforcer for the team, and is under contract until the end of the 2021-22 season. This trade stings, as the team added unnecessary “grit” after back-to-back Stanley Cups, making the fourth line much worse and giving up valuable assets to do so.
Daniel Sprong has to be the most disappointing draft pick in recent club history. After being chosen 46th overall in 2015 and being hyped by many fans as the next goal-scoring winger for Crosby, he could never develop into a full time NHL player in Pittsburgh, with four goals and nine points in 42 games played.
After his time with the Penguins was up, Sprong was moved to the Ducks for Marcus Pettersson, and later traded to the Washington Capitals.
Since being moved to the Capitals, Sprong has 13 goals and 20 points in 42 games, and it is safe to say that he has finally found a home in the NHL, just unfortunately not with the Penguins. On the bright side, Jake Guentzel has become what was expected of Sprong, so it hasn’t been all bad.
Basically what I’m getting at is that even though the Penguins are a historic franchise with many Hall-of-Fame talents, they have also had many players with very forgettable stints who went on to do great things on other teams. It sucks to see, but that’s the randomness that comes with the sport.
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