Given the segmented nature of the NHL this season, it was more difficult than normal to see former Pittsburgh Penguins still in the NHL. If they didn’t play in the East division, they didn’t play in Pittsburgh or against the Pens at all this season. So let’s scan around the league, starting out West, to check out how the 2020-21 season went for the former Penguin players still in the NHL.
Stats: 7 games played, 0 goals, 2 assists, 0 PIMs
—Quite a little career carved out by the now 31-year old Megna, who hasn’t been with the Pens since the 2014-15 season. He’s bounced around a bit over the years but has found a home lately in the Colorado organization as a AAAA type player who can be a high-end AHL player but also come up for stints and take a decent NHL shift when injuries dictate. And Megna’s done well enough to sign a fairly lucrative two-way two-year extension with Colorado, so good for him, the undrafted played will be playing meaningful hockey well into his 30’s.
Stats: 2 GP, 0G+0A, 0 PIMs
—Cole was reunited with Bill Guerin, as the Minnesota Wild GM traded for the red-headed defenseman early into the 2020-21 season. The move was necessary for Colorado, who needed a bit of cap space and saved some money trading Cole for Greg Pateryn. Cole is an impending UFA at 32 years old and looking to catch on somewhere next month.
Stats: 37 GP, 1G+4A, 27 PIMs
—At 34, it looks like Reaves is slowing down a bit. He only fought three times this season, there’s just not many left who will drop the gloves for him. By the end of the playoffs he was a healthy scratch at times. He still has one more year left on his contract, but the end of his NHL days could be approaching fast unless he has a big bounce back next season.
Stats: 26-10-0, 1.98 GAA, .928 save%, 6 shutouts
—Fleury wasn’t even the opening night starter for Vegas, but 2020-21 was arguably the finest regular season of Marc-Andre Fleury’s illustrious career. He set career highs in GAA and save% while going on to earn his very first Vezina nomination. Fleury also passed Ed Belfour and Roberto Luongo in career wins to move up to 3rd place ALL TIME in NHL wins. Impressive stuff. Then the playoffs came and he alternated brilliant and befuddling performances that eventually saw him back on the bench for Vegas’ last game, to match his view from the first. Quite the strange journey of winning, losing, winning and losing the job again and again. Fleury has one more year on his contract, and both he and the team made end of year comments about intentions to return to Vegas again next year.
Stats: 52 GP, 1G+7A, 32 PIMs
—Cole was the steady, veteran third pair defenseman that Minnesota wanted when they traded for him. Now the question is will he return to the Wild or test free agency? Both look in wait-and-see mode for now, where it is quite possible due to the protection avenues that Minnesota might lose a good defenseman and have a bigger need and appetite to bring back Cole.
Stats: 55 GP, 10G+16A, 26 PIMs
—Another classic Bonino season, chipping in a bit of production where he finished sixth on the team in points. Nothing overwhelming, just more quietly solid play up the middle in the middle of the lineup. Bonino, 33, is a free agent this summer as well and should certainly find a spot somewhere around the league to keep his career going.
Stats: 44 GP, 6G+11A, 17 PIMs
—Bjugstad needed a change of scene and return to health, and he achieved both to a moderate degree. The Pens/Wild trade was setup so that basically there was no chance Minnesota would give up anything (Pittsburgh would only get a 2021 seventh round pick if Bjugstad played in 70 games or scored 35 points), which considering most figured it would be a shortened season basically gave no chance of hitting either mark, and he didn’t threaten either. Now a free agent, Bjugstad is probably at a crossroads to see if any team will offer him an opportunity to make their club.
Stats: 56 GP, 19G+39A, 22 PIMs
—Perron led the Blues in assists and points. He’s been pretty productive everywhere but Pittsburgh, for whatever reason. He’s really found a second wind the last two seasons in St. Louis, scoring 118 points in his last 127 games, still putting up a ton of points at age 33 and where he has one more year on his contract.
Stats: 28 GP, 4G+5A, 14 PIMs
—Injury shortened Sundqvist’s season this year to limit what has been a pretty effective checking line player.
Stats: 40 GP, 1G+4A, 47 PIMs
—Bortuzzo is almost a relic of a different era at this point as a big, physical defenseman. He functioned as a lower pair player this year and now is looking at the free agent market next month to see what his next chapter might be.
Stats: 56 GP, 20G+23A, 12 PIMs
—It was a better second season in the desert for Kessel, who led the Coyotes in goals and points. He only has one more year on his contract, and is rumored to be on the trade block with coach Rick Tocchet leaving the team. Kessel is also on pace to break the current consecutive games played mark next season, though Keith Yandle is in front of him. Yandle has been a healthy scratch in playoffs (doesn’t count for the mark) and may be on the outs in Florida, so it might be Kessel’s mark by the time it’s said and done.
Stats: 56 GP, 3G+19A, 14 PIMs
—Soon to be 36, Goligoski keeps on tickin’ with his career that is now up to 924 games. He is a free agent this summer and may be on the move for a new club looking for a veteran defender that can still get around the ice pretty well.
Stats: 53 GP, 8G+12A, 12 PIMs
—Arizona is Brassard’s fourth team since leaving the Pens in 2019, he’s bounced around quite a bit. He’s a free agent now as well, it’s seemed like his career has been on life support for a while so it remains to be seen what and where the next chapter will be.
Stats: 41 GP, 0G+4A, 4 PIMs
—The slow decline for Maatta continues, though still just 26 he played 16 minutes a game on one of the bottom-end teams in the league. Maatta has one more year on his contract.
Stats: 56 GP, 4G+5A, 10 PIMs
—Marleau limped over the all-time NHL games played record this year, still getting quite a bit of ice time but ending up as one of the least productive players in the whole league. He’ll be 42 before next season starts and is leaving a question to his future up in the air, it seems like he still wants to play, but will San Jose see a need for an icon who has faded well past usefulness?
Stats: 46 GP, 6G+9A, 25 PIMs
—Grant has bounced around a bit, for whatever reason he tends to play pretty decently for Anaheim, but not as well for other NHL teams. The lower line energy player has found a niche with the Ducks, where he is signed for two more seasons.
Stats: 19 GP, 0G+6A, 2 PIMs
—Another lower line player, Rowney was a bit player who dealt with injuries and is now looking at free agency.
Stats: 3 GP, 0G+1A, 0 PIMs
—The AAAA player got a cameo appearance in the NHL this year