If you’re a hockey fan, then you already know how loaded the Pittsburgh Penguins are in terms of offensive talent.
When you have the likes of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Derick Brassard, Conor Sheary, Kris Letang, etc., you know the puck is going to go in the net and that lots of points will be accumulated. With that said, there is one 24-year-old that does not get talked about enough when it comes to the team.
This is about to change as Penguins’ forward Jake Guentzel was signed to 5-year, $30 million contract extension back on December 27. For a 24-year-old to make $6 million a season means that he is someone that the franchise believes is going to be a part of the team’s core for years to come.
There are a few reasons why this is a good contract for this hockey club. For starters, Guentzel is a playoff beast.
In 37 career playoff games, he already has 42 points. He is someone that clearly has the clutch gene and is also someone that when it comes to the playoffs, is someone that the team’s coaching staff can count on to go out and produce when goal scoring is usually hard to come by.
In last year’s playoffs, Guentzel was by far and away the team’s best player. In an article written last year in the playoffs, Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review said that Guentzel’s playoff run surpassed Penguins’ greats Mario Lemieux, Crosby, Jaromir Jagr, and Malkin.
Remember, Guentzel has only played in two postseasons. The fact that he has played so well in them bodes well for this team’s future when it comes to the most important time of the hockey year.
Secondly, in his two and a half seasons with the club, he has been one of the team’s most consistent forwards. Again, with the likes of Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, and Hornqvist, you have a 24-year-old as one of your team’s best players.
He burst onto the NHL and Penguins’ scene in his first season in 2016-17. He had 33 points in 40 games and then went out and picked up 21 points as the team went out to win their second straight Cup.
Guentzel played in all 82 games last season and had 48 points (22 goals and 26 assists). Yes, that may not seem like a lot, but again, he was just 23-years-old and for a second-year NHLer to put up that total is actually quite impressive.
This season, Guentzel has once again been one of his team’s best players. As of this writing, he has 33 points (15 goals and 18 assists) in 37 games and has shown no signs of slowing down.
Lastly, this deal ensures that the Penguins have another valuable scorer for the next several seasons. While guys like Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, and Hornqvist are not exactly old, they are not getting any younger and no one knows, maybe with the exception of Crosby, what their futures are with the team.
This deal is only going to make the Penguins better both now and in the future. The team will not only have him while their Cup window is still slightly open, but they will have him for the foreseeable future, which in the end, is perfect for both Guentzel and the franchise.
Photo: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette