The Pittsburgh Penguins may have bowed out of the playoffs earlier this month in the play-in round, but the list of ex-Penguins that made it into Round 1 remains strong. Let’s take a look at what some of these former Pittsburgh players are up to since they have been battling for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Marc-Andre Fleury — Vegas Golden Knights
Longtime former net minder of the Pittsburgh Penguins and current resident of Sin City, Marc-Andre Fleury was the firm holder of Vegas’ crease until the surprise acquisition of goalie Robin Lehner. The Flower’s 2020 playoff stat line shows two wins in two games played with a 2.50 goals against average and a save% of .886. Not bad. Not great, either.
Lehner looks to have taken control of the net for the long haul, which could leave Fleury with questions surrounding his short and long-term future with the Golden Knights. But after the swift dismantling of the Chicago Blackhawks in five games, Fleury and Vegas are still awaiting their second-round series.
Ryan Reaves — Vegas Golden Knights
Ah, the polarizing Ryan Reaves. The grinder’s half-season with the Penguins in 2017-18 saw him become a lightning rod for criticism due to his subpar advanced metrics as well as the sudden shift in philosophy from GM Jim Rutherford, who was looking to add some grit and toughness to the squad to protect his star players, rather than build on the speed and skill that won him his second championship in as many years.
But Reaves has found a home in Vegas, notching 15 points in 71 games during this season. And Reaves, maybe to the surprise of some, already has four points, all assists, in eight playoff games in the bubble.
Olli Maatta — Chicago Blackhawks
Defenseman Olli Maatta, traded last summer to the Blackhawks for Dominik Kahun and a 2019 5th-round draft pick, played 65 games in his debut season for the Hawks and scored 17 points.
His role as a top-4 defender looks to be solidified in Chicago. And while the Blackhawks are already out of the bubble thanks to Vegas, Maatta’s offensive instincts were on display this postseason, scoring three times and assisting three times for six points in nine games.
Phil Kessel — Arizona Coyotes
Phil Kessel’s first season in the desert was less than ideal, according to his talent and high standards. The sniping right winger only scored 14 goals in 70 games, and only had a goal and four points in nine playoff games this season before the Coyotes were eliminated by the Colorado Avalanche. Granted, he may not be playing with a similar cast of players like he was when in Pittsburgh, but Kessel’s renowned scoring ability is what earns him his paycheck. I’m sure he and the Coyotes will be looking for more in his sophomore season with Arizona.
David Perron — St. Louis Blues
Remember David Perron? The supposed answer for a long-term top-six winger for Sidney Crosby? Well that worked out for about one full calendar year before Jim Rutherford traded Perron to the Anaheim Ducks for Carl Hagelin in January 2016.
Now in his third stint for the St. Louis Blues, Perron is riding high as the top line right winger alongside Ryan O’Reilly and Jaden Schwartz. Perron is averaging a point per game, with eight points in eight playoff contests this year.
Oskar Sundqvist — St. Louis Blues
The player Jim Rutherford sent to St. Louis for Ryan Reaves in 2017 was Oskar Sundqvist. And Sundqvist has become a dependable bottom-six center who helped the Blues capture their first Stanley Cup last year.
Not typically known for offense, Sundqvist had 23 points in 57 games this year, but only has one assist and is a -3 in eight playoff games so far.
Tanner Pearson — Vancouver Canucks
Another short-lived experiment for the Penguins, Pearson was acquired via trade with the Los Angeles Kings on November 14, 2018. The winger never really became a fit and was traded on February 25, 2019 to the Vancouver Canucks for Erik Gudbranson.
Pearson has had a bit of a career resurgence in Vancouver by having the best statistical season of his career in 2019-20, scoring 21 goals for 45 points in 69 games.
So far in the bubble, Pearson has six points in nine games.
Brandon Sutter — Vancouver Canucks
Sutter spent three seasons in the black-and-gold from the 2012-13 season through the ‘14-15 campaign, often centering the third line. But he was traded to the Canucks for Nick Bonino in July 2015. We know how that turned out.
Sutter has played nine games so far in this year’s tournament, only registering a goal and an assist.
Ian Cole — Colorado Avalanche
Former Penguins defender Ian Cole has spent the last two seasons in a Colorado Avalanche sweater. But before that, Cole spent parts of four seasons with the Pens, winning two Stanley Cups with the team.
Bouncing around the second and third defense pairings, Cole has been a solid defenseman who can certainly chip in offensively, and he showed that again during this season, finding the net four times and finishing with 26 points in 65 games.
He has no points in eight playoff games this year.
Blake Comeau — Dallas Stars
Blake Comeau only spent one season with the Penguins, the 2014-15 campaign. Comeau proved to be a solid addition to the team, bouncing around the lineup and often finding himself playing with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Now seen as a depth forward, he’s been playing with the Stars since the start of the 2018-19 season. He had 16 points in 55 regular season games this year and has two assists in 9 playoff games.
Matt Niskanen — Philadephia Flyers
Perhaps the player that has garnered the most media attention in recent days, Matt Niskanen came over to the Flyers from the Washington Capitals for the 2019-20 season.
But before that, Niskanen spent parts of four seasons with the black-and-gold between 2010 and 2014.
After leaving Pittsburgh, many Penguins fans quickly soured on Niskanen for cross-checking Sidney Crosby in the face during the 2017 playoffs while playing for the Capitals.
Now, Niskanen finds himself in the spotlight once again for face-checking Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher:
Carl Hagelin — Washington Capitals
Speedster Carl Hagelin’s days in Pittsburgh will be remembered fondly for being a part of the fabled HBK line in 2016.
But now Hagelin plays in the enemy’s colors, the red, white, and blue of the Capitals.
Never really known for his hands, Hagelin still put up a respectable 25 points in 58 games this year.
Hagelin only had one assist in eight games for the Capitals before being eliminated by the New York Islanders on August 20.
Jordan Staal — Carolina Hurricanes
And we’ll finish off this list with Jordan Staal. On June 22, 2012, Staal was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumoulin and the Hurricanes’ eighth overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft (which turned out to be Derrick Pouliot. Yikes). Staal had spent the previous six seasons in Pittsburgh.
Staal has been with the Hurricanes ever since the trade. This season saw Staal score 27 points in 68 regular season games.
Staal’s scoresheet was filled with goose eggs through eight games in the Toronto bubble before his team was eliminated by the Boston Bruins.
Well, it’s a long list with some names that you may have forgotten were Penguins at one time or another. But whether it was for a cup of coffee or a prolonged stay to win a Stanley Cup, these players all have Penguins roots one way or another.