Player: Teddy Blueger
Born: August 15, 1994 (24-years-old)
Weight: 185 pounds
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Draft: 2012 Pittsburgh Penguins, Second Round, 22nd Pick (52nd Overall)
2018-19 Statistics: Six goals and four assists for 10 points in 28 games played up in the NHL in Pittsburgh, and 21 goals and 18 assists for 39 points in 45 games played with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the AHL.
Contract Status: Blueger’s entry-level contract at a $925,000 cap hit has ended, and he’s currently a restricted free agent eligible for arbitration and a raise. He worked his way into Pittsburgh’s lineup intermittently via injuries to the big club thanks to his stellar season offensively down in WBS, and by the end of the season, was playing almost-regular NHL minutes in a bottom-six role. In the past, Blueger’s future with the Penguins was a little cloudy, but since his impressive performance and age appealed to the future of the organization, it’s likely Jim Rutherford extends the young forward.
2018-19 Regular Season in the NHL
There obviously isn’t much to go off of considering Blueger started in fewer than half the Penguins’ regular season games in 2018-19, but a 10-point performance in 28 tilts isn’t bad for a first-year forward with a ton of playmaking ability. He was especially effective later on in the year as the Penguins were fighting for playoff seeding in games 76 to 82.
Career AHL Regular & Postseason Stats
Blueger’s AHL stats carry the meat and bones of the 24-year-old’s offensive capabilities, and it’d be a disservice to him to not included them in his overall review. Before he was called up to face the Lightning on January 30, Blueger was leading the entire WBS Penguins’ roster in scoring with 39 points (21 goals, 18 assists) in 45 games played. For the remainder of 2018-19, he was either suited up and on the ice for Pittsburgh in a bottom-six role, or used as a healthy scratch, not based off of performance, but based off of regular roster players coming back from injury.
Advanced Stats From 2018-19 Season
Unfortunately, the fine folks at Natural Stat Trick haven’t tracked any of Blueger’s games, so there isn’t much to work with from an advanced metrics point of view. That being said, his tracked possession metrics for a first-year player in the big boys league are pretty admirable and set a solid foundation to build off of.
Blueger received the bulk of his starts as a Pittsburgh Penguin in the month of March, gaining a whopping 16 after only seeing nine games in the previous two months. In those games, he collected six points and really got involved in throwing hits (which he also did in February). Blueger is a fascinating forward because of that, and his playmaking and scoring abilities, merged with his willingness to be physical, is a beautiful combination.
There was a point in the 2017-18 season where you could tell Blueger was experiencing a tiny bit of frustration for having to wait down in the minors for his NHL shot while the road block of forwards in Pittsburgh paraded on. But finally, after all the waiting and forced patience, he made his 2018-19 debut on January 30 vs. Tampa Bay (he started one game vs. the Stars in 17-18). It didn’t take long for him to get going, because just one game later, the young forward netted a goal in a tilt against the Senators, and solidified his place as a depth scorer in the bottom-six.
His breakout performance earned him a set spot later on in the last few remaining days of the regular season, where he tallied four points in seven games. It’s almost a lock that Blueger will be back next season, and with Matt Cullen’s future being a little cloudy at the moment, there’s a chance the Latvian phenom takes his place as the Penguins’ fourth line center and finally finds a home.
Do you agree with the sentiment that Blueger will be staying in Pittsburgh for the long-run? Is his offensive ability impressive or expected? Do you believe if Cullen retires or the Penguins don’t extend him, Blueger will be the answer at 4C?
Grade Teddy Blueger’s 2018-19 Performance
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