Player grades: Jake Guentzel

Regular Season Stats: 82 GP, 22 G, 26 A, 48 PTS, -9

Postseason Stats: 12 GP, 10 G, 11 A, 21 PTS, +10

Defining Moment

This one seems to be a pretty easy one for the youngster, right? The game six clincher against the Philadelphia Flyers was the defining moment for Guentzel in this season’s chase for a three-peat. Jake Guentzel had been very inconsistent on the season despite his 22 goal regular season effort. He scored them in spurts which led to his moving around in the lineup. He had four goals and five points in that game six alone. It capped off what was a crazy inconsistent but yet still productive season for the young gun.

He then followed up the previous season’s legendary playoff effort with another one. Despite only playing in 12 playoff games this time around due to the Penguins’ elimination in round two, Guentzel recorded 21 points and now has 42 points in 37 playoff games. He has proven that when the stakes get higher, his play elevates with it and his playoff chemistry with Sidney Crosby has been evident.

Player Grade: B-

Guentzel’s postseason play alone elevated his garde from a C- to the B-. I had been low on him despite the 22 goals because, as previously mentioned, it came very inconsistently. But what about this Penguins season was consistent? Even Crosby had a down year by his standards.

What I liked about Guentzel was his improved intensity. He is a small 5’11” but he seemed a bit more willing to throw his body around this past season and that’s something that seemed to boost his play and keep him in the coaching staff’s favor. Another 15+ goal scoring season helped as well.

Guentzel isn’t going to wow you with his defensive abilities but he played competent enough and was the driving force along with Crosby in the Penguins quest for a three-peat that did ultimately come up a bit short.

Role for 2018

Simply put, he’ll be with Crosby on his left wing again. The chemistry was so good last postseason and into the regular season that they started the season together in 2017-18′. Things didn’t quite click right away and after some shuffling, the duo ended up back together when the games really began counting again in April. The dominance again came back and the two were the postseason scoring leaders for a solid week and a half before anyone who was still playing even caught them. That’s absurd.

They will go back together and the Penguins hope to begin another big run with those guys manning the first line will be alive and well again if these two play even a shade similar to what they have accomplished in the postseason. There is obvious chemistry here. Stay tuned.

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