Let’s try to have a good Sunday, eh gang? This tweet stood out and looked worth following up on.
Unpopular Positive Opinion, Hockey Edition— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) August 3, 2019
Name an underrated active NHL player that
1) You genuinely remember watching and liking
2) Is not currently on/awaiting their Entry-Level Contract
3) Isn't considered a core piece of a small market team https://t.co/rTnGGbsoX5
For the Penguins, it’s tough to say who is really underrated. It’s a very celebrated team that is the active leader in consecutive playoff appearances. They’ve won three Stanley Cups in the last decade, and are the NHL’s only back-to-back winner of Stanley Cups in the salary cap era.
But when I think about underrated, maybe the mind goes more to under-appreciated. And this is more regarding a league-wide perception. Because, by and large, anyone who watches a lot of Penguins games appreciates Brian Dumoulin. But, boy oh boy, you have to give him the nod here.
Dumoulin rose to prominence in 2015-16, his rookie season in the NHL. By the end of it he was on the first pair, and the Penguins were Cup champions. Rinse and repeat in year two in 2016-17 — even this time more impressive since Dumoulin’s partner on the first pair was Ron Hainsey instead of the injured Kris Letang. (Toronto went on to win exactly 0 playoff series with Hainsey in the two years that followed).
In four years as a full-time NHLer, Dumoulin’s Corsi For% has averaged 52%. Relative to his teammates, he’s been positive each of the four seasons (impressive considering the quality of competition). Dumoulin’s Scoring Chances For% has ranged from 52.8% - 56.1% in those four years, demonstrating consistent ability to suppress chances against as well as be on the ice for good things to happen.
Dumoulin frequently plays with Letang as well as forwards Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. All aggressive and extremely skilled players who think all offense, all the time. Dumoulin acts as the safety net behind them, allowing them to take a lot risks knowing that someone steady is hanging back to shutdown anything that leaks through.
And again, appreciation for Dumoulin isn’t in short supply among Pittsburgh fans. Most who watch know how critical a role he plays, and how well he does too. Even if it’s not a sexy style that jumps out, it’s very effective. It’s understandable why he flies under the radar for more league-wide, broad style views, even though he still might be one of the team’s best kept secrets.
So today we salute you, Brian Dumoulin. The rare defensive defenseman who uses positioning, size, excellent skating and the ability to move the puck to be a very effective and useful player for the Pens.