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Season in review: Dustin Jeffrey

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Key Stat: Dustin Jeffrey was the second worst forward (min. 15 games with the Penguins) on the Penguins in his Corsi relative to quality of competition(better than only Eric Tangradi).

Interesting Note: Jeffrey was on the ice at 5on5 for seven Penguin goals for and 12 Penguin goals against in 25 games. Last season, over 26 games, Jeffrey was on for 12 GF and 9 GA.

The Good: Unfortunately for Jeffrey, not too much went his way in 2011-12. Coming off ACL surgery, he never could shake the rust and get back up to 100% form for this season. (Which just goes to show how super-human Evgeni Malkin’s 50 goal, 109 point season really was). With Jeffrey, you have to look to find some positives. He did have a relatively high .65 goals/60, thanks to his low minutes played. And he also had one of the lowest PDO’s on the team, indicating perhaps some bad luck on the ice.

The Bad: Pretty much everything- his advanced stats show a fringe 4th liner who saw more negative events happen (goals and shots against) than positive. Health aside, Jeffrey was given a chance to claw back into the lineup when mid-season injuries struck and Pittsburgh gave him a sweater for 18 straight games from January 11th to February 19th…And in those 18 games Jeffrey largely failed to impress and didn’t do much to merit getting into games once the team got healthy and he’d find himself back in familiar "healthy" scratch territory.

Moment to Remember: January 20, 2012 vs the Montreal Canadiens. Dustin Jeffrey got his first point of the year in a pretty innocent way, 4 minutes into the game when, while just inside the blue-line DJ passed it back to Kris Letang, who stickhandled and skated around the offensive zone like a magician before a deft backhand goal. Then in the second period, with the Pens down 2-1 Jeffrey scored his first goal of the year. Craig Adams took a penalty, so Dan Byslma sent Jeffrey out to start the PK and DJ was able to take advantage of it when he re-directed a fairly weak Zbynek Michalek pass by Peter Budaj. Then with the Pens losing 4-2 in the third period, Jeffrey would strike again on a prettier goal when he collected a loose, bouncing puck and swatted a beauty of a top-shelf shot to beat Budaj. Malkin would score later and Pittsburgh would win the game in a shootout, giving Jeffrey his first and only #1 star of the game this season.

Moment to Forget: For Jeffrey, the whole season was one to forget. He wasn’t officially injured but his knee rehab never quite let him get up to speed and he only played one game after February 26 due to the coach’s decision to scratch him every single game down the stretch.

Discussion: Jeffrey’s an interesting case- he’s been around in the NHL for parts of 4 seasons now, but has only 66 games played (and no career Stanley Cup playoff games). For one reason or another (injury, youth, inexperience) he’s been a player that management likes, but not necessarily enough to play him every night. So where does that leave him? He’s probably not skilled enough to consistently produce in a top-line scoring role in the NHL, and he’s not really as physical or defensively minded enough to be considered a great checking option. Similarly, Jeffrey can play center or wing, but he’s never really molded an identity or found a niche in Pittsburgh at either. He has a contract for next year; do you see him as a 3rd or 4th line option? Or back in the familiar territory of being a regular scratch? Or would you think he could/should just be trade bait? Jeffrey’s role and fit is pretty uncertain, how would you like to see it shake out for him?