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Top Penguins of the Decade: #9 - Jake Guentzel

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Our retrospective feature of the best Pens checks in with the franchise’s best development story of the decade

Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Previously on this feature of checking out the best Penguins of the 2010’s:

#10: Pascal Dupuis

#9 Jake Guentzel

Pittsburgh Penguins v Ottawa Senators - Game Three Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images

Stats with the Pens starting on 01/01/2010: 238 games played, 95 goals, 98 assists, 193 points

Ranks on team for decade: 7th in goals, 8th in assists, 7th most in points

Interesting stat: Guentzel’s 76 ES goals in the 2010’s rank fourth on the Pens. Can you guess the top 3? (Answer at the bottom, no cheating)

Seasons with Pittsburgh: 2016/17-current

Best season in Pittsburgh: 2018-19; 40G+36A for 76P in 82GP (though a pretty good case this year’s 36 point in 34 game effort will eventually be better if he keeps up the pace)

Favorite Moment: It’s hard to top scoring four goals in a single game against the Flyers. Unless it’s scoring four goals in a single game against the Flyers to eliminate the Flyers from the playoffs while in Philly.

The goodest good boy: The ultimate and long-sought after “winger for Crosby” ended up being found in the third round of the 2012 draft, weighing in at a sopping 155 pounds on draft day. From those humble beginnings and a trip through three years of college in Nebraska, Guentzel emerged and really jumped on the scene in the 2017 playoffs. Guentzel’s 13 goals in 21 games boosted Pittsburgh to a second Stanley Cup.

Guentzel fit right in with Sidney Crosby, showcasing a wonderful hockey IQ, knowing where to pop up and right when around the net. Guentzel’s sneaky good shot, and generating scoring chances from right in front of the net (many thanks to a nice Crosby pass) is the reason Jake shot a whopping 19.8% in his first year in 2016-17 through 40 NHL games. In subsequent years he shot 12.9%, 17.6% and currently 15.7% this season.

About the only bad thing for Guentzel for this feature was something out of his control. He just came along five or six years too late. Imagine adding Guentzel to the team around 2011 instead of his debut in November 2016? How different the lost middle of the decade may have been for Pittsburgh. Alas, when he finally did arrive, it was with authority.

Guentzel has played almost now what adds up to three full NHL seasons in his career with a 238 game career sample. He’s averaged a 33 goal, 34 assist pace overall, and has only been heightened by playing at over a point-per-game pace in 2019-20.

Washington Capitals v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Three Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
2017 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

*Trivia answer: Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz are the only players to score more ESG than Guentzel