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What would the 2021 expansion draft look like if it was all ex-Penguins?

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We run the 2021 Seattle Kraken expansion draft one more time— and this time, we’re only picking from the familiar faces scattered across the NHL.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Florida Panthers at Tampa Bay Lightning
Former Penguin Patric Hornqvist as a Panther on May 26, 2021.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

It’s July 21, 2021, and Ron Francis is studying his list of exposed players across the NHL. This time, though, there’s a catch— the only players available are ones who have skated in Pittsburgh. In a thought experiment inspired by @dameofscones on Twitter, we take a trip down memory lane and scout the list of ex-Penguins still active in the NHL to decide who would make the cut for the Seattle Penguins.

Just like the Kraken, the Seattle Penguins are required to select 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. So, how does that draft go down?

Forwards

Jared McCann (C)

Penguins career: 2019-21

2020-21 team: PIT

2020-21 statline: 14-18—32, 43 gp

This one might just feel like twisting the knife, but Maple-Leaf-turned-Kraken McCann has proven himself to be a consistent 30-point producer, even in a shortened campaign. He’s never averaged more than his 2019-20 ice time (15:15 per game), so it will be interesting to see how he does with a bigger role.

David Perron (LW)

Penguins career: 2015-16

2020-21 team: STL

2020-21 statline: 19-39—58, 56 gp

Perron may have already spent 14 seasons in the NHL, but he posted one of his best campaigns in 2020-21. His 58 points led the Blues and marked the third-most productive season of his career.

Chicago Blackhawks v Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby celebrates with David Perron after scoring a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks on January 5, 2016.
Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

Patric Hornqvist (RW)

Penguins career: 2014-20

2020-21 team: FLA

2020-21 statline: 14-18—32, 44 gp

Hornqvist put up his eighth consecutive thirty-point season in the shortened 2020-21 campaign. Although his high-impact style of play results in wear and tear on the body, he’s still able to cause problems for his opponents.

Phil Kessel (RW)

Penguins career: 2015-19

2020-21 team: ARI

2020-21 statline: 20-23—43, 56 gp

Kessel’s numbers dipped away from Evgeni Malkin during his first campaign in Arizona, but this past season saw him return to his role as a dangerous scorer, even on a team without a lot of offensive support (he was the only Coyote to reach 20 goals in 2020-21).

Jordan Staal (C)

Penguins career: 2006-12

2020-21 team: CAR

2020-21 statline: 16-22—38, 53 gp

It may feel like Staal has been around forever, but he’s just 32 and likely has a few NHL seasons left in him— a good thing, seeing as the veteran center ranked fourth on the Hurricanes with 16 goals in 2020-21.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin after a goal by Jordan Staal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on February 25, 2012 at Consol Energy Center.
Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images

Conor Sheary (LW)

Penguins career: 2015-18, 2020

2020-21 team: WSH

2020-21 statline: 14-8—22, 53 gp

Sheary’s speed and accurate shot made him one of the Capitals’ best producers of high-danger scoring chances in 2020-21. At $1.5mil/year, he’s a bargain at the price.

Daniel Sprong (RW)

Penguins career: 2015-18

2020-21 team: WSH

2020-21 statline: 13-7—20, 42 gp

For the first time in his career, Sprong spent a full NHL season with a single team. He showed off his wicked shot by scoring 13 times despite skating for fewer than 12 minutes a night. He’s only 24, so his all-around game could still improve.

Alex Galchenyuk (C)

Penguins career: 2019-20

2020-21 team: OTT / TOR

2020-21 statline: 5-8—13, 34 gp

Galchenyuk’s production in Pittsburgh wasn’t quite what the Penguins hoped it would be. That pattern continued on the three other teams Galchenyuk bounced among in the past two seasons. There’s a chance that a permanent home— or at least, one team for a full season— could be the shot in the arm this talented 27-year-old’s career needs.

Carl Hagelin (LW)

Penguins career: 2016-18

2020-21 team: WSH

2020-21 statline: 6-10—16, 56 gp

The Penguins are well aware of Hagelin’s shortcomings on the breakaway, but he worked well as a fourth-liner for the Capitals in 2020-21, where his speed benefitted the grinding bottom six and his hands weren’t left as exposed.

Brandon Sutter (C)

Penguins career: 2012-15

2020-21 team: VAN

2020-21 statline: 9-3—12, 43 gp

Once one of Pittsburgh’s most reliable forwards, Sutter has battled injuries the past few seasons. His numbers have declined since his 33-point 2014-15 campaign in Pittsburgh, but the entire Canucks team struggled through a tough 2020-21— and, even so, Sutter scored his first NHL hat trick, showing he still has what it takes to light up an NHL net.

Nick Bonino (C)

Penguins career: 2015-17

2020-21 team: MIN

2020-21 statline: 10-16—26, 55 gp

Bonino’s role with the Wild in 2020-21 probably declined too much to justify his $4.1mil/year cap hit, but he’s still proven himself to be a consistent double-digit scorer.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New Jersey Devils
Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino talk during a break in action against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on December 27, 2016.
Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

Derick Brassard (C)

Penguins career: 2018-19

2020-21 team: ARI

2020-21 statline: 8-12—20, 53 gp

Brassard’s puck possession numbers were best in the early stretch of 2020-21, when he spent most of his ice time on a line alongside Phil Kessel.

James Neal (LW)

Penguins career: 2011-14

2020-21 team: EDM

2020-21 statline: 5-5—10, 29 gp

After surging with six goals in the first three games of 2019-20, Neal’s numbers plummeted to the lowest of his NHL career with the Oilers in 2020-21. Does the streaky winger have some hot stretches left in him, or will his numbers continue to stay in the single digits?

Josh Archibald (RW)

Penguins career: 2015-17

2020-21 team: EDM

2020-21 statline: 7-6—13, 52 gp

After two seasons marking double-digit goal totals, Archibald’s numbers dipped in 2020-21— but he’s shown he can maintain a bottom-six NHL role for the past few seasons and was effective on the Oilers penalty kill.

Defense

Jamie Oleksiak

Penguins career: 2017-19

2020-21 team: DAL

2020-21 statline: 6-8—14, 56 gp

Oleksiak’s Penguins career between his stints with the Stars helped him bloom into a top-four defensemen. He was a reliable cog in the Stars’ run to the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, a solid performance that catapulted him into the biggest role of his NHL career in 2020-21, when he skated a personal-best 20:29 per game.

Alex Goligoski

Penguins career: 2007-11

2020-21 team: ARI

2020-21 statline: 3-19—22, 56 gp

Goligoski had one of the least productive seasons of his career in 2020-21, but he was still one of the Coyotes’ top two defenders and led team blueliners in ice time on the penalty kill. At 35, he’s likely hit his years of declining productivity, but he’s still one of the best shot-blockers in the NHL (he tied for ninth in 2020-21.)

Pittsburgh Penguins v Montreal Canadiens
Alex Goligoski celebrates his goal with Evgeni Malkin against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre on January 12, 2011.
Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Justin Schultz

Penguins career: 2016-20

2020-21 team: WSH

2020-21 statline: 3-24—27, 46 gp

Schultz ranked seventh on the Capitals in point production as a second-pairing defenseman in 2020-21. Despite the weaknesses in his defensive coverage that the Penguins saw in his 2019-20 campaign, his production totals help boost his value.

Ian Cole

Penguins career: 2015-18

2020-21 team: COL / MIN

2020-21 statline: 1-7—8, 54 gp

Even in a shortened 2020-21 season, Cole still topped 90 blocked shots; he stopped at least 115 in the five seasons prior. What GM doesn’t love a gritty defensemen willing to spare a rib or two in the name of a shot block?

Olli Maatta

Penguins career: 2013-19

2020-21 team: LAK

2020-21 statline: 0-4—4, 41 gp

Maatta’s 2020-21 wasn’t great— so much so that he earned an honorable mention on a list of the NHL’s top-10 contract buyout candidates as the Kings’ seventh defenseman in 2020-21.

But hey, if you think this is a dubious pick, wait until you see the next few...

Pittsburgh Penguins v Detroit Red Wings
Olli Maatta and Bryan Rust get set for a face-off against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena on April 2, 2019.
Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

Robert Bortuzzo

Penguins career: 2011-15

2020-21 team: STL

2020-21 statline: 1-4—5, 40 gp

Bortuzzo battled injuries and a declining role, but he was still a core part of the Blues at 4v5 in 2020-21, just as he once was in Pittsburgh— though it may be worth noting that the St. Louis’ penalty kill was one of the least effective in the NHL.

Erik Gudbranson

Penguins career: 2019

2020-21 team: OTT / NSH

2020-21 statline: 1-3—4, 45 gp

Gudbranson offers the Penguins 10 years of NHL experience and can be relied on to dish out heavy hits— but the stay-at-home defenseman played just nine games after Nashville acquired him at the trade deadline.

Jack Johnson

Penguins career: 2018-2020

2020-21 team: NYR

2020-21 statline: 1-0—1, 13 gp

Didn’t you think it felt a bit prophetic that Johnson’s single goal in 2020-21 was scored against the Penguins? He missed nearly the entire season due to core muscle repair surgery, but the unrestricted free agent will be recovered by this fall.

CHEAT PICK: Marc Bergevin

Penguins career: 2000-01, 2002-03

(Fine, we’ll admit it: We ran out of active defensemen)

Sure, Bergevin hung up his skates in 2004 and now stands behind the bench for the Montreal Canadiens, but at least he works out!

Goaltenders

Marc-Andre Fleury

Penguins career: 2003-17

2020-21 team: VEG

2020-21 statline: 36-26-10, 1.98 GAA, .928 SV%

Fleury may cost more now than he did on the contract that the Penguins handed to Vegas back in 2017, but he just won the Vezina Trophy— he’s no longer a consensus back-up goaltender.

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning
Matt Murray, Marc-Andre Fleury and Patric Hornqvist celebrate a win against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on December 10, 2016.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images

Thomas Greiss

Penguins career: 2014-15

2020-21 team: DET

2020-21 statline: 29-8-13, 2.70 GAA, .912 SV%

Once a backup in Pittsburgh, Greiss has grown into a legitimate NHL goaltender. Although he struggled in the early stretch of 2020-21, he backstopped a relatively weak Red Wings team to 29 wins and put up solid numbers in the second half of the season.

Matt Murray

Penguins career: 2015-20

2020-21 team: OTT

2020-21 statline: 25-10-13, 3.38 GAA, .893 SV%

Sadly, things haven’t improved for Murray with the struggling Senators; he posted the lowest numbers of his career in 2020-21. He’ll start the season as a third-string goaltender for the Seattle Penguins.

We did it!

So now we’ve cobbled together the 2021-22 Seattle Penguins. What do you think: could they be a playoff contender?

What’s more: would you take any of these still-active ex-Penguins back onto the actual Pittsburgh roster for 2021-22?