Welcome back to Part II of our series catching up with where we catch up with former Penguin players still in the league. Earlier we looked out West and now we’re going up North to check out the Great White North of the Canadian division.
Stats: 26 games played, 4 goals, 8 assists, 14 PIMs
—After starting the season in Ottawa, Galchenyuk continued his trend of ping-ponging around the league. This year he got traded to Carolina on February 13th. He was immediately waived, no one took him and then quickly traded to Toronto two days later. Galchenyuk found a bit of a home with the Leafs, and got a decent opportunity due to injury to play a decently-sized role. He didn’t fall on his face, but was still a healthy scratch for Game 1 but played the last six games of the season. He scored four playoff points in five games (three of which came in a single game, his only goal an ENG). So is he good? Bad? Somewhere in between? No one seems to know. Free agent again this summer, so we’ll see what’s next interesting chapter of his journey.
Stats: 48 games played, 9 goals, 6 assists, 2 PIMs
—The player that once charmed and tricked some in Pittsburgh didn’t do much in his first year Edmonton. And while his most common linemates were Kailer Yammamoto and Leon Draisaitl, Kahun could only must four 5v5 assist this season. Yikes. There’s a reason he’s been on four teams in a three season NHL career, the sizzle is bigger than the steak. Kahun played in 2/4 of the Oil’s playoff games for just under 11 per game, and is a restricted free agent this summer.
Stats: 52 games played, 7 goals, 6 assists, 27 PIMs
—Archibald has exceeded a lot of expectations and found a niche in an energy role. Prior to this year, he had scored 12 goals in each of the last two seasons, showing a surprising amount of finishing ability from the bottom of the lineup. Archibald sometimes strays over the line, drawing a suspension for “clipping” in Edmonton’s season ending game four loss, but he’s under contract next year for the Oilers at $1.5 million.
Stats: 29 games played, 5 goals, 5 assists, 11 PIMs
—It feels like forever ago that Evgeni Malkin was calling James Neal by the humorous but rooted-in-truth nickname of “Lazy” and the two were lighting up the league, doesn’t it? Neal is still just 33 years old, and still has two more years remaining on his $5.75 million cap hit. Will Edmonton bite the bullet and buy him out this summer? If so, Neal’s NHL days might already be over, he’s just fallen off too much in the past few years to be effective and score goals like he once did.
The Jets had no former Penguins in 2020-21!
The Canadiens had no former Penguins in 2020-21!
Stats: 11 games played, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 PIMs
—Dominik Simon opted to sign with Calgary as a free agent, and it didn’t work out. Though he started the season playing on a line with Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau, Simon struggled to produce points and quickly lost his spot there. He was in and out of the lineup in February and then Calgary fired their coach and brought in Darryl Sutter. Sutter didn’t have much for Simon, the Flames waived him, found no takers and left Simon on the taxi squad for months. Finally, Simon got to play two games at the end of the season (to the tune of nine minutes a game). He’s a free agent again, and who knows where the interest might be in the NHL for Simon. His vaunted Corsi and advanced stats never had a chance to get going! Probably not too much after a dud of a 2020-21.
Stats: 36 games played, 1 goals, 2 assists, 47 PIMs
—Ottawa got Gudbranson in a trade from Anaheim before the season started for a fifth round draft pick. They traded him at the deadline to Nashville for a 2023 seventh round pick (awfully long time away!) and a non-factor NHL prospect, who was only included to even the contracts for both sides. In the few months in between, Gudbranson got to play on his hometown team on everywhere from the top pair with Thomas Chabot (didn’t go well!) to being a healthy scratch and everywhere in between.
Stats: 27 games played, 10-13-1, 3.38 GAA, .893 save%, 2 shutouts
—Murray cashed in with a four year deal worth an average of $6.25 million per, which he definitely earned it in his first year in Ottawa. He stepped in front of a veritable shooting gallery and was lit up and left out to dry more often than not. He left via injury/performance in 6/25 starts this season, going towards his worst GAA and save% of his career.
Murray picked up a few little injuries and was in and out for a while and it looked like a complete disaster of a season, then came a glimmer of hope. From April 14-24 Murray played five games, went 3-1-0 in a stretch that included both of his shutouts on the season, allowed only six total goals and had a .957 save%. But it was a quick burst that ended in injury and he was shut down for the rest of the season. The question is, can Murray get close to his April play? Or is he destined to cash checks and spin his wheels?
You can squint and see that the talent and ability is still down in there, but he’s been inconsistent, prone to injuries, and is playing for a team that is not going to provide a ton of help. It all adds up to an uphill battle.
Stats: 51 games played, 10 goals, 8 assists, 26 PIMs
—Not really a stand out year on the ice for Pearson, but he was rewarded in April with a three-year extension worth $3.2 million per season starting next year, because....Jim Benning reasons. Almost all middle-age, middle-line forwards have been taking beatings on their contracts, but Pearson can rest well knowing he’s probably the latest in a long line of generosity from the Canucks over the years.
Stats: 43 games played, 9 goals, 3 assists, 2 PIMs
—Sutter’s contract is up now, and recording three assists as a center in 648 total minutes is just, well it sums up Brandon Sutter. He’s 32 years old but will he catch on somewhere else next year?
Boy, this trip through Canada was really depressing, wasn’t it? Just about all the former Pens up there had rough professional seasons. Hopefully at least they made good salaries and stayed well personally. Because that was pretty tough to go through and see.