On every championship winning team, there are often unheralded players that make a huge difference. The Pittsburgh Penguins are no different. Jake Guentzel, a 22 year old rookie, lit the league on fire during the Penguins march to a second consecutive Stanley Cup victory. The rookie phenom led the league in goal scoring during the playoffs, tallying 13 goals through 25 games. Guentzel’s torrid pace came as no surprise to the Penguins. He recorded 27 points in 40 regular season games after making his debut in late November.
Guentzel’s dominance extends beyond his goal scoring ability. Of all NHL skaters that had at least 300 minutes on the ice this year, Guentzel was 3rd in the league with 2.88 Points/60, only behind teammate Conor Sheary and MVP candidate Connor McDavid (must be something to that first name). Even better, Guentzel was 1st in league in Goals/60 with 1.60. Guentzel also recorded a iCorsi/60 of 12.49, which represents the amount of individual Corsi events (shots on goal + shots that missed the goal + blocked shots) per 60 minutes of ice team. While nowhere close to league leader Bret Burns and his 21.47 iCorsi/60, Guentzel did manage to rank higher than his superstar teammate Evgeni Malkin (12.32). What is most impressive is that Guentzel recorded an IGP of 40.5, which was 2nd on the Penguins, only behind Sidney Crosby. IGP represents the percentage of goals a player scored out of all the goals that were scored while the player was on the ice. Guentzel’s IGP is high, good enough for around 40th place in the league. What makes this stat so impressive is that Guentzel usually plays on a line with Sidney Crosby, who was the league leader in goals with 44 during the regular season. When a player has a goal total that high, it usually means his linemate’s goal scoring totals drop. This wasn’t the case with Guentzel. He played with the top goal scorer in the league and still managed to find the back of the net at an impressive pace.
Jake Guentzel’s contributions to the Penguins were not always as direct as scoring goals. The mere presence of Guentzel on the ice seemed to increase the play of the high-powered Penguins offense. Guentzel registered a GF60 of 3.95 during the 2016-17 season. In other words, the Penguins scored 3.95 goals per every 60 minutes of ice time that Guentzel recorded. Furthermore, the Penguins register a ridiculous shooting percentage of 11.04% when Guentzel is on the ice. Guentzel finished 1st on the Penguins in both categories, and finished 1st and 9th in the NHL in GF60 and SH%, respectively.
Guentzel has made a name for himself on the Penguins offense. With names such as Crosby, Malkin, and Kessel, this was no small feat. However, Guentzel hasn’t played a full NHL season yet and there is a chance that he cools off or opposing defenses figure out his magic. Still, Guentzel demonstrated flashes of greatness and had the stats to back it up. If he can build upon his incredible rookie season and playoff run, the Penguins may have found a fourth head to add to their offensive monster.