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Over/unders for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ newest additions

Taking a look at some over/unders for the newest members of the Pittsburgh Penguins roster

Edmonton Oilers v San Jose Sharks Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

Now that the 2023-24 Pittsburgh Penguins roster is mostly set (with the possible addition of somebody like Tomas Tatar still floating around out there) and with the start of training camp just around the corner, let’s start looking ahead at what to expect from some individual players this season.

We start today with the newest members of the team and some over/unders on what to expect from them in terms of production.

Erik Karlsson: Over/under 70.5 points

Karlsson is the biggest and most important new addition to the roster, coming over in a blockbuster trade with the San Jose Sharks earlier this month. Even though he is entering his age 33 season he is still coming off the best season of his career and one of the best individual offensive seasons for any defenseman in NHL history. He became the first defender in 30 years to reach the 100-point mark and took him the third Norris Trophy of his career.

As good as he still is, and as good of a fit as he might be on the Penguins’ roster, I think it is reasonable to conclude that he is not going to hit triple digits in scoring again. That just seems like it is asking for way too much. In the four years prior to the 2022-23 season he was scoring at a 60-point pace per 82 games, which is still very good for a top-pairing defenseman in the NHL. Keep in mind only 12 defensemen reached 60 points this past season.

But Karlsson seems to be healthier than he was between 2018 and 2022, and he is also going to be playing on a better team with better talent around him. So it is fair to assume that he might still see a jump from that production, even if it doesn’t equate to the 100-point outlier from a year ago.

So let’s set the over/under for him this season at 70.5 points. That would still be an elite number and it would still significantly impact the Penguins’ roster (and almost certainly its power play). It is also not totally unthinkable to think a defenseman his age could reach that level of production. There have been 12 defenseman in NHL history to record at least 70 points in a season in their age 33 season or older, with Mark Giordano and Brent Burns both doing it at as recently as the 2018-19 season.


Erik Karlsson 2023-24 over/under: 70.5 points

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Reilly Smith: Over/under 25.5 goals

The other major addition for the Penguins came with the trade for Smith from Vegas as he was brought in to fill the void left by Jason Zucker in free agency.

On paper it seems like a perfect fit because he matches what Zucker provided almost across the board, from age, to salary, to actual on-ice performance offensively. It also didn’t really cost them anything as the Golden Knights needed to shed his salary to retain other members of their Stanley Cup winning roster.

Smith has been a pretty consistent performer the past few years, averaging a 24.5 goal pace per 82 game. He was able to score 26 goals this past season thanks in part to a 14.4 percent shooting percentage that was the second highest of his career. Can he do that again, or at least maintain what he has done the past three years?

The over/under here is a 25 goal season on what is probably the team’s second line alongside Evgeni Malkin.


Reilly Smith 2023-24 over/under: 25.5 goals

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Ryan Graves: Over/under 30.5 points

With the trade for Karlsson and signing of Graves the Penguins made significant changes to the top-four of their defense. Graves was the biggest free agent signing they made this summer, and he is presumably going to take over the Brian Dumoulin role on the top-pairing next to Kris Letang.

I actually like this signing more than most because Graves has a solid track record of being able to play next to star-caliber defenseman, spending significant time alongside the likes of Cale Makar and Dougie Hamilton in both Colorado and New Jersey. He is is never going to be a big-time offensive contributor as defense is his main priority, but he has still been able to consistently come in around 25 points.

I am going to set his over/under a little higher here just because I wonder if he could see a little boost playing in the Penguins’ system and getting what should be significant time with the likes of Letang and Sidney Crosby.

If he managed to get to the 30-point mark that would be a new career high, but I do not think that is an outrageous expectation.

The over/under here is 30.5 points.


Ryan Graves 2023-24 over/under: 30.5 points

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Noel Acciari: Over/under 12.5 goals

The Penguins desperately needed to overhaul their bottom-six following a dreadful 2022-23 performance by that group, and new general manager Kyle Dubas brought in several new faces to help accomplish that.

Acciari was one of the most significant additions to that group, signing a three-year, $6 million contract in free agency.

The common trend among those new bottom-six additions was improving the group’s defensive ability as pretty much every new addition excels in shutting down opponents and looks to be a significant improvement over what last year’s bottom-six was able to do defensively. Even with that being the case the Penguins are still going to need some offense out of that group. A potential Tatar signing would definitely help with that as a fully healthy Penguins lineup would have either him or Smith playing on the third line. But whether that happens or not there still needs to be some offense from the new guys.

While Acciari’s strength is his defensive play, he has shown some ability to score goals at various points in his career. He scored 14 goals in 77 games this past season, and even reached the 20-goal mark (in only 66 games) during the 2019-20 season. In between those two performances, however, he scored just seven goals in 61 games over two years.

So he’s basically a 10-15 goal scorer, which means the over/under is going at 12.5 goals.


Noel Acciari 2023-24 over/under: 12.5 goals

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Lars Eller: Over/under 12.5 goals

Eller was the other big addition to the bottom-six and he brings another big-time defensive presence.

At his peak he was an elite third-line center for Montreal and Washington and would typically score around 15 goals with 40 points and excellent defense.

While his production has started to slide a bit in recent years, he remains an outstanding defensive presence and along with Acciari should dramatically help the bottom-six keep teams off the scoreboard.

But again, there still needs to be some offense out of that group.

Eller appeared in 84 games during the 2022-23 season split between Washington and Colorado, scoring 10 goals on a 7 percent shooting percentage, which was actually the lowest mark of his career.

Even as recently as the 2021-22 season he was still shooting at a greater than 10 percent rate. If he had maintained that rate through this past season it would have put him close to 15 goals on the same number of shots. Can he get back closer to that level this season?

Like Acciari, the over/under here is at 12.5 goals.


Lars Eller 2023-24 over/under: 12.5 goals

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