Pensburgh wrapup: Chris Kunitz

PITTSBURGH - APRIL 22: Chris Kunitz #14 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his goal late in the second period against the Ottawa Senators in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Mellon Arena on April 22, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

"Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble." - Benjamin Franklin

Season stats: 50 gp, 13g, 19a, 32p, +3, 39 PIMs
Playoff stats: 13 gp, 4g, 7a, 11p, +3, 8 PIMs

Month-by-month Pensburgh grades:
October: B+
November: I
December: B+
January: I
February: B
March: B-
Playoff: B+

Contract status: Signed through 2011-12 season ($3,725,000 cap hit)...Unrestricted free agent summer 2012

Interesting stat: Over 107 regular and playoff games as a Penguin, Chris Kunitz has 75 points (.70 points/game). Over the rest of his NHL career he has 208 points in 352 games (.59 points/game).

The Good: While in the lineup, Kunitz has proven to be a valuable member of the first line. He forechecks hard, hits people down low, fishes out pucks in the corners but is also under-rated when it comes to dishing passes in open ice.

Staying in the lineup has been a problem; he missed the final four games of regular season (though he played all 13 of the playoff games) itwas revealed that Kunitz had a torn groin down the stretch. Despite that, he played admirably and still produced points at the same pace as last post-season.

The Not-so-good: Dating back to last playoffs and the start of the 2009-10 season, Kunitz scored exactly 1 goal in 35 games, drawing the ire of some fans. Durability and staying in the lineup has been problematic too, Kunitz missed 13 games in December/January for a lower body injury and then 15 more in February/March when he had abdominal surgery. Playing a rough style has gotten Kunitz into the NHL, but it's also taken it's toll and he hasn't been able to stay in the lineup every night.

Final verdict: When Kunitz plays, he's valuable. He might not have the best hands in terms of sniping goals, but he clears a lot of room for Sidney Crosby to be able to operate. At $3.725 million of cap room, Kunitz might be dragging a little too much cap space for his total value to the team on the ice, but there's no doubt he's proven to be a reliable scoring forward for the Penguins.

Question and Discussion: Penciled in on Crosby's line next season, what do you expect from Kunitz? His groin and shoulder should be about 100%, what do you hope he can do with what'll hopefully be his first full season of work with the Penguins?

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