As an addition to the five Penguin players I am most curious about for next season, that got me started down a path to wonder just what order the five most important players on the team will be for next season would look like.
Right off the bat, you have to think about the goaltender. It’s the most important position on the ice, the guy who plays by far the most minutes of anyone on the team, and also the one that can single-handedly lose a game for a team with an off night, or help a team get a win they might not have otherwise with an outstanding effort.
The defender who piles up points and regularly receives Norris votes while playing 24+ minutes a night has got to be top of mind too for the utmost of importance to have him playing and playing well. Though recent additions (Jeff Petry and Jan Rutta) have beefed up the right side of the Penguins’ defense a lot more than previous seasons.
The winger who consistently puts up 40 goal seasons is worth a mention. Or the other top winger that’s grown his offensive game and can be used in any situation is another very valuable player.
Oh, and the other franchise center that piles up points and boosts the power play from average to outstanding is worth a nod too.
But all those worthy mentions aside, even the most contrarian take can’t stray away from Sidney Crosby as the Pens’ most important player. Evidence was on display in the playoffs, where Pittsburgh was man-handling the Rangers (even without their two top goalies) with Crosby playing as fine of hockey as any point in his career. Through the first four games, Crosby had two goals and seven assists, and his abrupt removal from the series during Game 5 probably changed the course of the result as much as any other factor.
Crosby is a player who is basically a legend at this point, 13 top prospects around the league named him as the player they most looked up to as a kid, and also the NHL player they would most want to dine with in a poll from The Athletic. That type of influence and impact goes a long way and is no doubt shared in the Pens’ locker-room where the undisputed team leader sets the example and helps pull the rest of the team around.
So, to start the list I’m going to executive decision it and put Crosby as the most important Penguin. It’s not really about team record or performance without him (which has been quite commendable over the years) but more just that Crosby is probably the singular most important player in the league right now, on and off the ice. Or right there with Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, anyways.
To make things interesting, let’s open it up to you guys to consider who should be number two on this list and go from here.
Who is the most important player for the Penguins in 2022-23 from the choices below?
This poll is closed
You can look at it any which way you would like, maybe it’s which player’s loss could be absorbed over a long haul? Or if it boils down to one key game, which one do you want to see the sharpest? Or which one rises above the rest as far as “if he plays to a high level, the team can really get places”.