Our annual, 2020 version of the top players under the age of 25 in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
#18: Niclas Almari
#3: Marcus Pettersson, LD
2019 Ranking: #2
Age: 24 (DOB: May 8, 1996)
Acquired: Via trade from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Daniel Sprong (December 2018).
Height/Weight: 6’3”/177 pounds
Here’s what we said in our 2019-20 season review of the Swedish blue liner:
Pettersson’s number’s across the board are definitely what you’d like to see for as big a role as he had last season. He did much more than stay afloat and had positive possession numbers in every category. And as you can see in the possession metrics chart above, he progressed in every category in his second year with the Penguins.
He played in every game for the Penguins last year (along with only Teddy Blueger) which is almost unheard of for a Penguins blueliner. He had his ups and downs without a doubt, but still finished net positive in the end. He’s never going to chip in a lot of goals but he’s no slouch when it comes to creating offense, either. He only turned 24 in May and is signed for five more years. Year two was definitely another good one for Pettersson with the Penguins.
1:21- 1:35— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 23, 2020
It's time for Mic'd Up Monday with your host, Marcus Pettersson. pic.twitter.com/FmCrmXTXRq
As teammates dropped left and right due to injuries last season, defenseman Marcus Petterssons avoided the bug, playing in all 69 of the Penguins games. Having Pettersson on the ice helped keep the blue line in tact as much as possible while others were mending their respective ailments. This also led to Pettersson averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per game, by far the most in his career.
One downside to Pettersson being the healthy Penguins defenseman meant he was often saddled with a less than ideal partner. Playing alongside Jack Johnson and Justin Schultz for periods of time meant Pettersson wasn’t always able to deploy his full skill set, and it hurt his overall game. It was a different story when he was paired with rookie sensation John Marino, a pairing we should expect to see going forward.
After coming over from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Daniel Sprong during the 2018-19 season, Pettersson made an immediate impact for the Penguins on the back end and almost instantly tilted the trade in the Penguins favor. That strong play never left and Pettersson signed a one year bridge deal for 2019-20 before signing a long term extension that will run through 2024-25, meaning the Penguins view him as a part of their long term plans for the blue line.
Now with the long term deal under his belt, the Penguins will be expecting Pettersson to up his game and form a strong partnership with Marino on the second pairing. At only 24 years of age, there is still plenty of development left for Pettersson to tap into and playing alongside a guy like Marino might be exactly what he needs to take that next step.
No one is expecting Pettersson to develop into the next Letang (that’s for his partner), but a younger, cheaper version of Brian Dumoulin might suffice just as well. Being able to deploy a pairing of Pettersson/Marino right after Letang/Dumoulin with little drop off could prove invaluable for a Penguins team who relies on its blue liners to move the puck up the ice and set the offense in motion.
Pettersson, like Jared McCann, is one of the few players on this list who have already made a major NHL impact but also is a player the Penguins did not fully develop themselves. He was already an NHL regular when they traded for him in 2018 and since then has blossomed into a second pairing stalwart who continues to improve his overall game. Now well compensated for his services, Pettersson looks to be someone who will be manning the Penguins blue line for years to come.