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Who is the single most valuable player to the Penguins’ franchise right now?

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NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Rumors have recently sprung up regarding players like Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Buffalo Sabres superstar Jack Eichel being put on the trade block ahead of the 2020 NHL Draft. This led to SBN’s Flyers blog, Broad Street Hockey, posing the question of: “Who’s the single most valuable player to the Flyers’ franchise right now?” (Insert Joke Here).

But let’s take what BSH did and put a Penguins spin on it.

There is a catch for this question, however. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, two obvious hall-of-famers, will not be allowed on the list. Everyone else on the Penguins’ roster as of today is allowed to be included. Let’s begin.

Brian Dumoulin

Why it’s him: The quiet, yet always-steady force of Brian Dumoulin has helped give the Penguins one of the top defensive pairs in hockey. A regular in the lineup since 2015-16, Dumoulin has flourished into the team’s #2 d-man playing on the opposite side of Kris Letang. He’s never going to put up amazing offensive numbers, but you hardly have to worry about Dumo being out of position. And after all these years of playing top minutes, he still leads the league in beers-chugged/60.

Why it’s not:

For all of Dumoulin’s greatness, he has played second fiddle on defense to another player that has carried the flag for the team for a long time now. There’s just one more player who I would put above Dumoulin...

Jack Johnson

Kris Letang

Why it’s him: I debated putting Letang in that “untouchables” list with Sid and Geno, knowing that these three have been “the core” of the team since 2009. I think Letang is one of the greatest Penguins and will probably retire as the team’s greatest-ever defenseman. His offensive instincts are unmatched on the current blue line. His shot from the point (even if he doesn’t use it enough), can be lethal. It starts and ends with Letang on the backend. The team is noticeably better with him, and team defense is much, much worse without him.

Why it’s not: At 33, it’s clear Letang’s best years are behind him. While I still believe he is indispensable, there will come a time where Letang will begin to slow down and not be on the ice for 30+ minutes per game. His name is seemingly in trade rumors every off-season, and while I do not think he’ll be traded in the short-term, his long-term outlook on the Penguins could be shaky.

Jake Guentzel

Why it’s him: Guentzel has molded himself into a surefire star alongside Crosby and Malkin, something that was surely not expected from many, if any, in the Penguins’ organization when he was drafted in the third round of the 2013 NHL Draft. 200 points in 243 career games, plus a 40-goal campaign to his name is already an impressive feat. Guentzel has the makings of a player who can help lead the Penguins into a new era as Sid and Geno begin to wind down their careers.

Why it’s not: I really can't pinpoint a reason why he wouldn't be one of, if not, the first name to qualify for this list. There’s hardly a negative to think of. Let’s be honest. Who else outside of Guentzel has the long-term prospects of sustaining meaningful success in that forward group? Bryan Rust is 28, and last season may have been an anomaly in his career. Kasperi Kapanen’s Maple Leafs tenure wasn't exactly other-worldly. Jason Zucker is also 28, and while he is firmly planted in the top-six with Malkin, he doesn't carry that special aura of a game-changer.

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Poll

Who is the single most valuable player to the Penguins’ franchise right now?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Jake Guentzel
    (1080 votes)
  • 8%
    Brian Dumoulin
    (126 votes)
  • 14%
    Kris Letang
    (216 votes)
  • 5%
    Other/Comment below
    (83 votes)
1505 votes total Vote Now