INJURY UPDATE: Jake Guentzel underwent successful shoulder surgery after a nasty collision with the boards last night. Guentzel is expected to miss four to six months.
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Jake Guentzel on Injured Reserve
Losing Jake Guentzel is a major loss for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They have experienced injuries to key players like Evengi Malkin, and most recently captain Sidney Crosby. Yet they were able to continue to win hockey games. This loss may even more insurmountable than any for the Pens.
Guentzel, 25 has been a significant offensive threat for the team all season. He has collected 20 goals (with his last goal scored right before his crash into the boards), 23 assists for 43 points in 39 games. That’s a 1.10 points per game pace and that won’t be easy to replace. His possession statistics are even more impressive. This season his Corsi For percentage is a stellar 56.0, while his Relative Corsi For is 5.0. It doesn’t get much better than that. He was the Penguins 77th overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
He is also a very accurate shooter as evidenced by his 15.7 percent shooting ability. Things may get better once Crosby returns soon, but this team needs to determine how other players will need to step up and replace Guentzel’s scoring and level of play.
One player who comes to mind would be Alex Galchenyuk. He has been a huge disappointment with just four goals, nine assists in 30 games. He is averaging 12:32 minutes of ice time and that may increase due to Guentzel’s injury. There have been rumours of his impending trade.
What This Means Going Forward
The Penguins certainly may look into acquiring another forward to replace Guentzel but have limited cap space to do anything. A trade before the deadline may be in order, and a player like Galchenyuk or Jack Johnson could certainly be on the block to help the team down the last half of the 2019-20 season.
Yet, just like when Malkin went down, and Crosby went down, the team finds a way to persevere. It’s in their DNA. They KNOW how to win, under whatever circumstances they are up against. This is perhaps more of a blow though since Guentzel is such a great offensive player.
It will be interesting to see how general manager Jim Rutherford handles this situation. It will be a challenge which goes without saying. Losing a player of Guentzel stature is never easy, but if any team can overcome it that would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.