Pittsburgh Penguins By The Numbers: Jake Guentzel Contiues Climb To Elite Status
|Photo Credit: Eric Hartline/USA Today Sports|
Today I continue my player recap series with a look at Jake Guentzel of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Make sure you go back and read my previous reports on Brandon Tanev and Sam Lafferty.
It didn’t take long for Guentzel to make an impact at the NHL level, scoring on his first two shots in his debut against the New York Rangers.
He hasn’t really slowed down since then, emerging as one of the better wingers in the game, a legitimate top line forward that Sidney Crosby hasn’t had in years - if at all.
While there is a certain benefit that comes with one of the greatest players to ever play the game, Guentzel has shown to be a capable playmaker in his own right, with the ability to creat for himself and for others.
During his first season, Guentzel helped the Penguins make it back to the Stanley Cup Final, tying the record set by Dino Ciccarelli and Ville Leino for most points by a rookie during the playoffs.
Two seasons ago Guentzel became just the second player not named Crosby or Evgeni Malkin to score 40-goals in a season (James Neal 2011-2012), and if not for an injury he was on pace to do so once again.
By The Numbers
The former third round pick had 20 goals, 23 assists (43 points) in just 39 games when he went down with a shoulder injury. Over an 82-game season that would have equated to 42 goals and 90 points for the product of Nebraska-Omaha.
*Numbers courtesy of Natural Stat Trick, based off of all forwards with at least 250 minutes at 5v5 during the 2019-2020 season. On-ice numbers adjusted for score and venue.
Guentzel was one of the best offensively producing players in the league this past season, finishing near the top in almost all individual statistical category.
While maybe thinking some of these numbers couldn’t be maintainable, if the same size was over the last couple of seasons, you would find Guentzel right at about the same. Not only has he proven an elite finisher, but also a capable playmaker, finishing among the best when it comes to primary assist rate.
He is also great with the puck on his stick, showing the ability to drive action, ranking among the best in giveaway rate.
His actual goal share, along with his expected goal rate is among the best in the league, and his possession numbers is astounding.
Having to play without Crosby wasn’t a big deal, mainly because he eventually spent most of the season flanking Malkin while their captain was out. But regardless of who he has played with, Guentzel has found success, mainly because of his ability to create for himself and not rely as much on who he is playing with.
Guentzel was able to make it back in time of the playoffs, namely because of the COVID-19 stoppage pushed back the playoffs. He was able to register three points in four games before the Penguins were bounced out of the postseason by the Montreal Canadiens.
When the season finally comes about, there is little question where the 26-year old Guentzel will be lining up, to the left of Crosby. They will have a new linemate when things get started back up after Jim Rutherford reacquired Kasperi Kapanen (who Pittsburgh originally drafted) from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Adding Kapanen’s speed and defensive awareness will be an interesting dimension added to the top lineup, which could also allow Crosby and Guentzel to press harder offensively.
What was your most memorable moment of the season for Guentzel? What are your expectations for him in the coming year? Where would rank him among the best wingers in the league? Let us know in the comment section below. Also, subscribe to the site at the top of the article, and follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy and @SportBlogMurphy.