Marcus Pettersson Proving to be Defensive Asset to Pittsburgh Penguins

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - DECEMBER 10: Marcus Pettersson #28 of the Pittsburgh Penguins hold sup v18 during the second period at NYCB Live at the Nassau Coliseum on December 10, 2018 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Since his arrival, Marcus Pettersson has shown himself to be an essential piece to the Pittsburgh Penguins defense. The 22-year-old is on track to develop into a success story for his new team. After coming over from the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Daniel Sprong, Pettersson found himself in a better position with both teammates and coaching staff alike.

Pettersson set up to thrive in Pittsburgh

In his two seasons with the Ducks, Pettersson only put up one goal and nine assists. He wasn’t getting a whole ton of ice time, and he wasn’t producing much with it. The hope was that with a change of scenery, teammates, and coaching, he would develop into a more effective player. That hope has been paying off big time for the Pens.

Head coach Mike Sullivan and General Manager Jim Rutherford compared Pettersson to both Brian Dumoulin and ex-Penguin Ian Cole. Not bad company to be in for such a young player. Despite taking 12 games to register his first point as a Penguin, he’d already made an impression on the team. Pettersson boasts a long reach that he capitalizes on, quick puck movement, and an impressive ability to anticipate a play. He’s not afraid of the physicality of the game, though he is only 177lbs. He remains engaged at all times, and his active stick was a huge draw for Sullivan when he sought out the trade.

Pettersson’s made some big plays that turned out to be difference makers for the Penguins. After his net-front dive to save the puck from crossing the line in the Pens 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on December 19th, the defensive awareness became an undeniable attribute. Shortly after that, he used that long reach to poke check and squash what would have been an inevitable scoring chance for the Minnesota Wild, showcasing his aggressive play.

Developing the talent

Pettersson is naturally a “defensive defenseman,” but he has the potential to bring a more offensive side to the table. With the direction of Penguins assistant coach Sergei Gonchar, who has a talent for handling defenseman, he has an excellent opportunity to come full circle. If Pettersson takes advantage of Gonchar’s coaching, he can solidify his position as a core piece of Pittsburgh’s defense. His responsible puck handling already earned him time on the second power-play unit. In just 15 games with the Penguins, he already has eight assists. That’s almost as many points as he had in all 49 games with the Ducks, and he’s averaging 16:02 minutes of ice time in Pittsburgh paired with veteran Jack Johnson.

As time goes on, the young defenseman is developing into an essential cog in the wheel of the Pens defense and is only showing signs of moving forward. The change of scenery is definitely paying off for both the Penguins and Pettersson.

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