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Ex-Penguins still in the NHL 2019-20, Metropolitan Division

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Checking in on old friends that are close to home

Philadelphia Flyers v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

As we wait for the NHL to get back into training camps as they look to restart the season, why not take a step back and look across the league at former members of the Pittsburgh Penguins who have moved on and play for a different team. Today, we’ll look at the Metropolitan.

Related- Part 1: Ex-Penguins in the Atlantic Division 2019-20

Part 2: Ex-Pens in the Pacific Division

Columbus Blue Jackets

None

New Jersey Devils

None — though former Pens’ farmhand Ben Street did play three games in the NHL with NJ this season. Street played in Wheeling in 2010-11 and then Wilkes-Barre in 2011-12. He got three games in Jersey, but most the season in AHL Binghamton.

New York Rangers

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Greg McKegg

Stats: 53 GP, 5G+4A, 17 PIMs, -2

—McKegg signed with the Rangers as a free agent last summer, playing fourth line role with 9:34 TOI per game. McKegg is a free agent again this off-season and will likely be looking for a spot on the fringe of an NHL lineup somewhere, though he might be an AHL player with NHL callup possibilities for injury.

New York Islanders

New York Islanders v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Derick Brassard

Stats: 66 GP, 10G+22A, 16 PIMs, -2

—A terrible 2018-19 season saw Brassard play (and play poorly) for three different NHL teams in Pittsburgh, Florida and finally Colorado where he ended as a healthy scratch in the playoffs. Brassard was able to find a $1.2 million offer for one season on the Island and had a bit of a renaissance early in the year, including scoring 13 points in 13 games in November. He cooled off quite a bit in calendar 2020, notching only two goals in 28 games and his TOI dropped to 12ish minutes in the latter point of the year.

Brassard is in a weird spot as a player with some offensive pop still, yet doesn’t do a lot else and also goes cold for long periods of time. He’ll be 33 before next season starts and looking for a contract, how he does in the play-in/playoff part of the year will be important for his future.

Tom Kuhnhackl

Stats: 28 GP, 3G+3A, 2 PIMs, -4

Kuhnhackl departed Pittsburgh in the summer of 2017 as well, signing one-year deals each of the previous two summers with NYI. He’s been used as a 12th/13th forward type, chipping in occasionally, but mostly in the background. At 28 he’ll be a free agent again this offseason and wasn’t in the lineup down the stretch for the Islanders, so he’s another fringe player.

Thomas Greiss

Stats: 16-9-4, .914 save%, 2.74 GAA

Greiss played one season in Pittsburgh in 2014-15, left as a free agent and has been with NYI ever since as a backup or 1B goalie, especially in the last two seasons where he’s played 43 and 37 games and been an important cog on a defensive team. With a career .915 save% in 282 NHL games, Greiss has quietly developed into a very solid goalie. He’s never been a star, but has not had the valleys and inconsistencies that many goalies show. He’s a free agent this offseason at age 34 and certainly should find work somewhere as a capable but quiet backup option.

Carolina Hurricanes

Pittsburgh Penguins v Carolina Hurricanes Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Jordan Staal

Stats: 68 GP, 8G+19A, 40 PIMs, +3

Staal, 31, was in his eighth season in Carolina, believe it or not and 14th in the league overall. He only scored single-digit goals this year, but still remains one of the Canes most important forwards (his 17:30 TOI ranked 3rd on all forwards on the team). Staal also led the team in 5v5 scoring chance% at 59.1%, high danger chances and xGF%. He’s still a very good forward who helps tip the ice in his team’s favor, he just can’t score. That’s nothing new as he only has 225 career goals in 961 games, with a little more scoring touch and hands, it’s not difficult to imagine that coulda/shoulda been close to doubled. Alas, he’ll just remain a super-solid, two-way player and not one of the top players of his generation.

Philadelphia Flyers

Pittsburgh Penguins v Philadelphia Flyers Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

Matt Niskanen

Stats: 68GP, 8G+25A, 29 PIMs, +15

Niskanen suffered through a poor season in Washington in 2018-19, his fifth year with the Capitals. They were ready to move on and traded him last off-season for Radko Gudas. The change of scenery worked out wonderfully for Niskanen, 33, who rebounded and played a strong season on the Flyers’ top pair with Ivan Provorov. It looked like he was getting a little long in the tooth and is a player with some miles on him (949 regular season games + 125 playoff games) but Niskanen appears to have reinvigorated his career a bit in Philly. Good thing, it was a risk for them to take on the final two seasons of his $5.75 million contract.

Derek Grant

Stats (with Philly): 7 GP, 1G+4A, 2 PIMs, +2

Grant scored 14 goals in 49 games this season with Anaheim before a trade sent him to Philly for a fourth round pick. Grant has played two stints with the Ducks and he has 28 goals + 25 assists in 146 games. Nice scoring touch for a fourth line player. Grant has also played for SIX other teams, and he’s only got 3 goals in 118 total games with teams other than Anaheim. Which is just hilarious, he never seems to work out when he’s not a Duck, but always seems to work out when he’s there. How does this happen? What’s in the water?

Washington Capitals

Pittsburgh Penguins v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Carl Hagelin

Stats: 58 GP, 8G+17A, 16 PIMs, +12

—To the surprise of no Penguin fans, Hagelin started off the season ice cold. He recorded no goals and 6 assists in the first 26 games of the season, missed time in November with an injury and didn’t score his first goal of the year until December 26th. Then, to the surprise again of no Pens’ fans, Hagelin heated up big time as the season went on, in the last 22 games he scored 16 points (7 goals + 9 assists) and was pitching in much more than earlier on. At age 31 that’s pretty much what Hagelin is, some nice wheels and PK’ing, but a guy you can’t really pencil in for much more than 10G+20A, most of which is going to come in the second half of the season.