The Penguins announced the numbers for their newest players today.
New season. New players. New numbers. pic.twitter.com/liB0BPDPP3— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 20, 2022
Because everything is better on the internet in list form, and because it’s probably now officially the dog days of the off-season, here we go!
#6 - Ryan Poehling (25)
—Poehling is sticking with 25, which the same number he wore in Montreal. On the surface, there is nothing wrong with that logic and to keep a preferred jersey number. But No. 25 in Pittsburgh is associated with Stanley Cup greatness and instantly brings to mind either Kevin Stevens or Max Talbot, probably depending on how old a fan is. That’s why it’s last on our countdown, the legacy makes for big shoes to fill in Pittsburgh to take this number. Enough time has gone by that this isn’t “Ville Nieminen taking #10 just a few years after Ron Francis left Pittsburgh”, but it’s close enough.
Number 25 fast fact: Despite being a fairly common hockey number, 25 has been barely worn in the last decade for the Pens since Talbot departed. Three different players have used it (Eric Tangradi, Andrew Ebbett, Tom Sestito) combining for 79 total NHL games in the number in recent times.
#5 - Ty Smith (24)
—A defender wearing No 24? Unless you’re Ian Moran, that’s a no-go. Smith wore No. 24 with the Devils and is sticking with it, even though the Pens are going to need him to play better than he did in New Jersey. A bit of a strange flex for a defender.
Number 24 fast fact: Along with Matt Cooke in the Stanley Cup days, the number 24 was also previously worn in Pittsburgh way back in the day by no less than Tim Horton and Eddie Shack, who is not quite Eddie Shore but still some old time hockey! (Ironic, since Ty Smith is definitely not that and a small offensive defenseman in the mold of the new days).
#4 - Dustin Tokarski (40)
—No offense to Tokarski, but it’s fair to say we’ve all had our fill of third string goalies for a while. Hopefully this number won’t need to be seen after training camp in Pittsburgh.
Number 40 fast fact: Until now, only seven different players have worn 40 for the Penguins. Tokarski has reclaimed it for goalies. The first four (Frank Pietraneglo, Patrick Lalime, Andy Chiodo and one-game wonder Alexander Pechurskiy) were all netminders. But the last three to wear it (Nick Drazenovic, Maxim Lapierre, Oskar Sundqvist) have been forwards. Tokarski is taking it back, and maybe trying to get in good with Pittsburgh goalie coach Chiodo??
#3 - Jeff Petry (26)
—Petry wore No.’s 58 and 2 with Edmonton at the start of his career, both of those numbers are unavailable in Pittsburgh. He has elected to keep the number 26, which is what he has worn since 2014 with Montreal.
Number 26 fast fact: Unless you go all the way back to the Syl Apps days, 26 is not a number with much recent memorable history in Pittsburgh. Ruslan Fedotenko and Steve Sullivan rocked it, but other than that, it’s slim pickens and random players wearing it over the years, leaving Petry a good chance to carve out a legacy with this number.
#2 - Josh Archibald (15)
—In his second stint with the Pens, Archibald upgrades to a much more normal and better jersey number than his previous days (No. 45). Archibald also wore 15 with Edmonton for the past three seasons.
Number 15 fast fact: Bryan Rust and Jason Zucker are the only other current players on the team with numbers that start in the teens.
#1 - Jan Rutta (44)
—Double digit repeating numbers are a classic in hockey, especially for defensemen. Rutta has worn 44 in Chicago and Tampa and is keeping it for Pittsburgh as well. That’s enough for first place in our countdown for a number that fits and will look great to see on the ice again in Pittsburgh. Brooks Orpik set the Penguin record for most games played by a defender in 44 (since broken by Kris Letang). Since Orpik left the number has stayed in regular rotation with Taylor Chorney and Erik Gudbranson taking a turn with the popular No 44.
Number 44 fast fact: Despite being a fairly high number, almost half of the Penguins’ expected opening lineup (eight players) will have an even bigger jersey number than Rutta’s No. 44 in 2022-23.