Pittsburgh might not be in the postseason, but the Penguins are still set to impact the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ten of the 16 teams in the postseason this week feature former Penguins on the roster. Here’s a look at the top five former Pens most likely to impact the playoffs.
5. Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs
After a hard fall following a collision with Detroit’s Lucas Raymond on April 2, the Maple Leafs announced Matt Murray would be day-to-day with a head injury and “other stuff.” He missed the last six games of the regular season.
Unfortunately that’s been the story of the season for Murray, who was held to just 26 starts this season after missing stretches of time with abductor and ankle injuries.
Alarms sounded in Toronto when Ilya Samsonov was also absent the last two games of the regular season with an undisclosed injury. Samsonov is reportedly ready to go for Game 1, with Joseph Woll, who played only seven games this season, slated as his backup. Penguins fans know all too well how dangerous it can be to head into the postseason with only one healthy top-two goaltender. Although Murray has been inconsistent this season, whether or not he returns could potentially be a hinge point in the Maple Leafs’ quest to finally make a deep playoff push in the Auston Matthews era.
4. Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
It’s been 14 years since Staal lifted the Stanley Cup with the Penguins, and he is no longer the 20-goal scorer he was in Pittsburgh— but the Carolina captain is continuing to show why he has received Selke Trophy votes in 14 of his 16 past seasons. He is a reliable shutdown center who can consistently control play for the Hurricanes.
At an 88.7 percent efficiency rate, the Hurricanes’ penalty kill ranked second only to the Boston Bruins for best in the NHL in 2022-23. It’s no coincidence that Staal also spent more time on the kill this season than he has since his 2009-10 campaign in Pittsburgh, according to Natural Stat Trick. His work at 4v5 will be critical for Carolina this postseason.
3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Minnesota Wild
Fleury has made 167 playoff appearances, which is second only to Patrick Roy (247) and Martin Brodeur (205) for the most postseason games played of all time. On Monday night, however, the 38-year-old was on the bench as Filip Gustavsson started Game 1. Gustavsson has had a fantastic season for the Wild, with some of the best numbers in the NHL (.931 SV%, 2.10 GAA, three shutouts) in 39 games for Minnesota.
Fleury has found himself in a familiar position: playing the experienced, veteran backup for a goaltender new to the playoffs. Will he get the chance to redeem a rough 2022 postseason performance for the Wild, or will he remain a backup to Gustavsson?
2. John Marino, New Jersey Devils
John Marino turned into the defender the Penguins hoped he would become this season. Unfortunately, he spent it in New Jersey.
Marino’s second pairing with Ryan Graves, which Natural Stat Trick ranks as one of the best 20 defensive duo in the league, has provided reliable defense for the Devils. Behind Dougie Hamilton, the two of them helped the Devils become one of the best shot-suppressing teams in the NHL this season. That defensive depth could help the Devils limit the Rangers’ high-scoring offense in this first round.
1. Jared McCann, Seattle Kraken
When mulling over where these past two Penguins seasons went wrong, one might glance over at Seattle and notice 40-goal scorer Jared McCann. McCann, who the Penguins flipped to Toronto for a seventh round pick and Filip Hallander ahead of Seattle’s expansion draft, led the Kraken with 40 goals and 70 points in 79 games this regular season.
McCann has not yet scored an NHL playoff goal (in 12 postseason appearances with the Penguins between 2019 and 2021, he registered three assists.) Putting money on him getting his first this offseason seems like an easy bet.
Former Penguins on playoff roster are with the Colorado Avalanche (Evan Rodrigues, Jack Johnson); Seattle Kraken (Jared McCann, Brandon Tanev, Daniel Sprong, Jamie Oleksiak, Justin Schultz); Minnesota Wild (Marc-Andre Fleury, Frederick Gaudreau, Oskar Sundqvist, Alex Goligoski, Ryan Reaves and former Pens prospects Calen Addison and Filip Gustavsson); Vegas Golden Knights (Phil Kessel, Teddy Blueger); Edmonton Oilers (Nick Bjugstad, Cody Ceci); Florida Panthers (Patric Hornqvist); Toronto Maple Leafs (Zach Aston-Reese, Sam Lafferty, Matt Murray); Tampa Bay Lightning (Ian Cole); Carolina Hurricanes (Jordan Staal, Stefan Noesen); New Jersey Devils (John Marino.)