It’s the dog days of summer, hockey is pretty quiet. I don’t feel like writing, but I’m here even though I don’t really have to be. You might even not feel like reading and you definitely don’t have to be, but you’re here and we love you for it.
So let’s make something of it with some fun. Commenter skyff came up with a very interesting premise (and some very good totals, I must say) so let’s take a gander.
The forward group is about as deep as it has ever been in the Crosby and Malkin era. My over/under for the forward group in terms of goals (assuming an almost full season of play) would be something like:
The line here is more forgiving than Vegas, since we’re basically to assume about 80ish games for all parties. I...don’t know how I feel about that. It’s virtually impossible to predict games played (well, for all non-Phil Kessel players) but it’s tough to predict which player might get dinged for a 10-20 game lesser season than everyone else.
So I will TRY not to have health projections clog the outlook, but that might be a losing proposition.
Also, for fun, not every player goes over, not every player is going to go under. For added difficulty try to make it as even as possible for the split of each category.
—For Jake Guentzel, it’s going to be shooting percentage driven. In 2017-18 (his first full NHL season) he shot 12.9% and scored 22 goals. Both respectable, but both lower than what he’s done in long stretches. In 2018-19, Guentzel shot a whopping 17.6% (t-15th highest in the league, minimum 20 goals) and had 40 tucks. Now, Guentzel is smart enough and has Crosby to feed him pucks, so he’s certain to carry a double digit sh%. But will it be closer to 20% like 2018-19? Or closer to 10% like 2017-18? The answer to that is the answer to this over/under. I’m going sky-high on talent and the chance for more power play time.
—Sidney Crosby has scored 36, 44, 29 and 35 goals in the past four seasons (average of 36). So I’ll take an over on 33.5, especially if we’re assuming he’s going to be playing almost all the games. Easy enough.
—Goals has been tied to games for Malkin, But even in the last five seasons he’s scored 151 goals, 30.2 per season. This is an easy over, especially if we’re assuming he’s going to play the games (he’s only averaged 66.8 games/season in those last five years). Even then, this should be a motivated star player looking to flex his muscle and I’d really like to hope Malkin is firing pucks in the net this year. Let’s put it this way, if he’s not a 30 goal scorer in 2019-20, the Pens season probably is not looking very good..
—If healthy, I like Patric Hornqvist to bounce-back a bit from last year, which goodness knows the team will need. Even last season, an acknowledged bad one, he scored 18 goals despite missing a lot of time to injury. He should crest 21+ assuming health, (That assumption, however, may prove to be no good).
—15 goals for Dominik Kahun? Seems an easy enough bar to clear right now in July, sure, why not? Even though, I mean he did get plenty of prime opportunities with offensive-minded players in Chicago and only scored 13 goals in 82 games, so buyer beware if you’re already penciling him in more like 20 or something in Pittsburgh, you’re probably setting yourself up for a disappointment.
—Dominik Simon doesn’t shoot great and only has 12 goals in 109 career games. I’ll be bold and choose him to at least match that figure of 12 this season because he’s going to play with Crosby some, he’s going to get looks at the net. It feels like he hits posts and shoots wide as much as anyone. If he can get in a hot-streak he could stack a few goals (and as a positive result, earn more top-six ice time), which could add up quickly here. Again, not expecting the world, but I’d like to think Simon can pop a few more in than last year when he scored eight.
—Teddy Blueger scored six goals in just 28 games this season. I think this line is low-key pretty tricky though; how often do you see a fourth line center with double-digit goals? Still, I like how Blueger was able to pop a few in and maybe in reality even though we’re saying assume mostly good health, there could be opportunities for him to play third line if/when someone gets hurt.
—I like the placement of this line for Alex Galchenyuk. At first, it seems an easy pull for an over, but Galchenyuk has only exceeded this mark once in six NHL seasons. So by now, he pretty much is what he is. I’d buy a case he makes a run for this number, and maybe even clears it, that would be great! However, for this look I’ll bank on his history of usually not scoring 22+ goals in a season.
—Again, going on history. Nick Bjugstad himself only has one 20+ goal season in six full NHL years. But, then again this could be a tricky line set here. I feel like a majority of public perception is that Bjugstad didn’t score enough, but his nine goals in 32 games as a Penguin makes for a 23-goal season pace in a full year. Can he maintain that? I’m going to bet he’ll get too defensive a role as the presumed third line center and say no.
—Similarly with Bryan Rust, does he get traded? Also while you’re not supposed to consider health, I just can’t divorce it totally since missing stretches of the season is very typical of Rust. So it’s kinda cheating but I would bet a lot he’s not a 20-goal guy next year when the dust settles in reality.
—Jared McCann scored four empty netters with the Penguins. While that’s not nothing, it’s also tough to count on replicating. Without empty nets he was on pace for an 18-goal season, which makes this again a really good over/under line set, but something to me just says he’s not going to smash a ton of boxcar-friendly stats this year. But I wouldn’t be shocked to be wrong, of any of these under picks this one I feel least confident about.
—He scored 14 last year, so great line to set a career-high. I think Brandon Tanev will be in a defensive role and not really have the quality of linemate (namely, Adam Lowry) to replicate his career season last year. Doesn’t mean he won’t contribute somewhere else on the ice in other fashions, though he still won’t do enough to justify the contract he signed.
—This was another one where it was tough to project a guy who always gets hurt to not get hurt. Zach Aston-Reese WAS on a 15-goal pace last season with eight in 43 games, but if the Pens somehow trade a defenseman instead of a forward could ZAR be the 13th guy on opening night? Not out of the question, though unlikely. Still, tough to see a mostly fourth line guy put up 15+ goals, and since I already hit Blueger to pop the over, I didn’t want to pick another lower line guy to clear a bar too. Only so many goals will come from depth players, right?
Well that was more fun than I thought, good work sticking it out. Let us know your best bets for overs and unders in the comments.