Player: Teddy Blueger
Born: August 15, 1994
Weight: 185 pounds
Birthplace: Riga, Latvia
Draft: Second round, 2012 (No. 52 overall)
2020-21 Statistics: 43 games, 7 goals, 15 assists, 22 points
Contract Status: Restricted free agent
2019-20 Pensburgh Season In Review (57 percent B grade; 27 percent C grade)
2018-19 Pensburgh Season In Review (66 percent B grade; 24 percent A grade)
Blueger’s postseason perfectly captured the essence of a playoff series against the New York Islanders. He had no points, the team dominated possession, shot attempts, scoring chances, and expected goals with him on the ice, and they still got outscored by a 4-2 margin during 5-on-5 play. In short: The process was sound, but the results stunk.
Story of the season
He proved that he is one of of the best fourth-line centers in the league and an outstanding defensive player that can chip in some offense with some surprising skill. He again centered the Penguins’ buzzsaw line between Brandon Tanev and Zach Aston-Reese, a trio that coach Mike Sullivan trusted and used all season (and postseason) in big situations. During the regular season that trio played more than 145 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey together and outscored teams by a 6-0 margin.
Regular season 5v5 advanced stats
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Ranking is out of 16 forwards on the team who qualified by playing a minimum of 150 minutes
Corsi For%: 46.5 (14th)
Goals For%: 52.3 (11th)
xGF%: 47.3 (13th)
Scoring Chance %: 47.1 (15th)
High Danger Scoring Chance%: 45.7 (12th)
5v5 on-ice shooting%: 9.36 (7th)
On-ice save%: .921 (11th)
Goals/60: 0.45 (13th)
Assists/60: 1.35 (5th)
Points/60: 1.84 (9th)
— If you look at the differentials it does not look like that impressive of a season for Blueger, at least as it relates to his ranking within the team. The differentials are hurt by the fact his line does not generate a ton of offense or chances. It is a defensive line, and a darn good defensive line if we are being honest. If you drill down to just defensive numbers he was one of the best forwards on the team when it comes to suppressing shot attempts, scoring chances, expected goals, high-danger chance goals, and goals themselves.
— Little surprise to see how well he scored in terms of assists given his role and his linemates for most of the season, Part of that is due to a high on-ice shooting percentage (maybe a little puck luck at play there) but he also had a surprisingly strong offensive performance this season.
(WAR didn’t smile much on Blueger due to offensive inputs, but was a great season defensively which fits his role)
(Nothing happens for either team with Blueger on the ice!)
(Great year for assists, but not a lot of shots when Blueger is out there. Also only four 5v5 goals in 43 games this season)
(PK is similar but slightly better xGA with Blueger on the ice)
Probably Teddy Blueger’s best play of the season when he scored a 3-on-5 shorthanded goal to start an early season comeback against the Washington Capitals.
Blueger is an extremely valuable defensive player and penalty killer that is a great fit as a fourth-line center, and if needed, a third-line center. Along with that, his offense took a nice step forward this season and saw him score at a 15-goal, 40-point pace per 82 games. That is a helluva season for a bottom-six forward.
The question now is what that will end up costing the Penguins against the salary cap as he is set to be a restricted free agent and will no doubt be getting a significant raise from the $750,000 salary cap hit he carried with him the past two seasons.
They have a great thing going with Blueger, Tanev, and Aston-Reese on their fourth line and the hope is they can keep it going for another year or more.
Quite frankly it is going to look very similar to what we saw during the 2020-21 NHL regular season. Strong defense, excellent penalty killing, and the occasional goal to help chip in offensively. He is not an All-Star level player, but he is the exact type of player you want helping to carry your third-or fourth-line.
Question to ponder
Think the big question to ponder here is whether or not Blueger will remain on the team for the 2021-22 season. It is not that trading him should be an option, and they certainly will not be non-qualifying him as a restricted free agent, but you have to think he is going to be an attractive target for the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft. The Penguins can not protect everybody (you can almost guarantee they will protect seven forwards and three defenseman and a goalie) and Blueger figures to be a player that would be attractive to them given his age, defensive ability, and the salary cap flexibility he would provide.
How Would You Grade Teddy Blueger’s 2020-21 Season?
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