Over the next couple of days we are going to play a couple of rounds of over/under for the 2019-20 Pittsburgh Penguins, trying to set a little bit of an expectation for what select players (and the team itself) are capable of. We start today by looking at possible goal outputs for a couple of X-factor forwards: Jake Guentzel, Jared McCann, and Alex Galchenyuk.
Let’s start with the 40-goal man.
The 2018-19 season was a breakout year for Guentzel that saw him emerge as one of the league’s top goal-scorers. He was rewarded with a new long-term contract that could be a steal if he continues on his current path.
But 40 goals is A LOT in today’s NHL and there are not many players that are capable of challenging that number on a yearly basis.
Working in Guentzel’s favor is that he is a smart, fearless player that is always in a good scoring position and has a great shot that can cleanly beat goalies. He also has the luxury of playing next to an all-time great on a regular basis and he might even get some additional top-unit power play time this season with the departure of Phil Kessel over the summer.
His shooting percentage was a bit on the high side at 17 percent, but I don’t know that it’s that much of an outlier from the rest of his career to anticipate a huge regression there because he has always been a high percentage shooter.
The over/under: 35.5
How many goals for Jake Guentzel for the 2019-20 season: 35.5
This poll is closed
McCann is a huge wild card for the Penguins because he is one of the few players on the roster that checks all of the following boxes:
He finished the 2018-19 season with a career-high 19 goals, with 11 of those coming in 32 games after his trade to the Penguins. That is close to a 30-goal pace over 82 games.
The Penguins love McCann and it’s not hard to see why. He is still only 23 years old, he has good speed, and an absolute rocket of a shot that was on display quite often in the second half of the season.
But we can’t ignore the fact that he was carrying a 15.3 percent shooting percentage with the Penguins, a number that was way above anything he had ever hit in his career.
A lot of that was due to the fact that he scored four empty-net goals. When he was actually shooting on a goalie with the Penguins he converted on just 10 percent of his shots, and scored at an 18-goal pace over 82 games. I don’t hold empty-net goals against a player’s past performance because it still says a lot about how much a player is trusted that they are on the ice in that situation, and it still counts on the scoreboard. But when we are projecting future performance I am not sure how much it means.
I think McCann’s talent and potential makes him a great breakout candidate for the 2019-20 season.
I also think there is the potential for a little bit of regression in the goal-scoring department.
The over/under: 15.5
How many goals for Jared McCann during the 2019-20 season: Over/under 15.5
This poll is closed
I can see Galchenyuk becoming a real battle ground player this season.
He is going to be under intense pressure from a large segment of the fanbase because of who he is not (Phil Kessel) and who he was traded for (Phil Kessel).
When a large segment fanbase puts a player under a microscope, there is a tendency for the other portion of the fanbase, as well as the team and media, to push bask and try to lift that player up.
Both sides fight about it a lot. Nobody changes their opinion. The cycle continues.
There is an expectation here that because Galchenyuk is going from a traditionally bad offensive team with no impact players to a traditionally great offensive team with many impact players that his numbers are going to all of a sudden spike. As I wrote shortly after the trade, I am not totally convinced that is going to happen. I think Galchenyuk is what he is: A poor man’s version of the player the Penguins traded away to get him.
The over/under: 25.5 goals
How many goals for Alex Galchenyuk during the 2019-20 season: 25.5
This poll is closed