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Checking-in on Kunitz, Fleury and Ex-Penguin Fan Favorites

LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 14: Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Golden Knights poses for his official headshot for the 2017-2018 season on September 14, 2017 at the City National Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

We all know the Penguins lost some important (and less-important) pieces of their 2016-17 Stanley Cup winning squad this year. While Penguins fans lament the loss of favorites like Fleury, Kunitz and Cullen—especially during stretches of poor play, like before their current win streak—what’s less known to the general Pittsburgh populace is how these ex-Penguins are actually performing with their new teams.

From the end of 2016-17 to now, the Penguins have lost Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Trevor Daley, Marc-Andre Fleury, Cameron Gaunce, Ron Hainsey, Chris Kunitz, Mark Streit, Oskar Sundqvist, David Warsofsky and Scott Wilson to trades or free agency. But do the Penguins really miss any of them? Let’s take a look. (Stats as of 12/2/2017).

Ex-Penguins Around the League (arranged in alphabetical order):

NICK BONINO – C – Nashville Predators

Bonino priced himself off the Penguins and took second line center money (4 years/16.4 million) to go to the Stanley Cup losing Nashville Predators. Injured at the beginning of the year, Bonino has only played 14 games so far and has 3 goals and an assist on the season. He also has an extremely poor 43.23% Corsi and some weird advanced stats (26.6% offensive zone starts, 96.5 PDO) that will undoubtedly even out as the season goes on. While his contributions so far for the Preds have been minimal, the Penguins could sure use him centering their third line.

MATT CULLEN – C – Minnesota Wild

Shunning both the Penguins and retirement, “Dad” picked his hometown Wild to play what will likely be his final NHL season. So far, not so good. Cullen has 1 goal and 4 assists in 25 games and is a -10 with a 36.4% Corsi. But Cullen isn’t the only one struggling on the Wild; the team is currently in 6th place in the Central with a 12-10-3 record.

TREVOR DALEY – D – Detroit Red Wings

Daley, who like Cullen had a difficult time leaving Pittsburgh, signed in Detroit for 3 years/9.5 million dollars over the offseason. Playing in a more defensive role with the Red Wings Daley has only 1 assist in 25 games this season while playing about 20 minutes a night. The Red Wings are currently sitting on a six game losing streak and are in 6th place in the Atlantic with a 10-11-5 record.

MARC ANDRE-FLEURY – G – Vegas Golden Knights

Perhaps the most popular player in Pittsburgh, Fleury, who was immediately assigned to be the face of the Golden Knights franchise, got off to a hot start in Vegas, going 3-1 with a .925 save percentage before getting injured. The expansion Knights haven’t missed a beat in his absence, however, and currently hold the second spot in the Pacific.

With Murray’s injuries and Niemi’s quick dismissal, the Pens wouldn’t mind having a veteran like Fleury on the roster, but Tristan Jarry looks ready to assume the mantle of “favorite back-up goalie” in his stead. Plus, Fleury was too expensive and his sacrifice ensured that the Golden Knights wouldn’t select a different unprotected player, making his leaving all but assured.

CAMERON GAUNCE – D – Columbus Blue Jackets

Gaunce played 12 games for the Pens in 2016-17 tallying a goal and 3 assists. He’s currently in the Blue Jackets’ organization but has yet to play a game in the NHL this season.

RON HAINSEY – D – Toronto Maple Leafs

The 35 year-old playoff virgin came to the Penguins in a mid-season trade in 2016-17 and proceeded to help Pittsburgh win a Stanley Cup, playing 21 minutes a night during the playoffs. The defensive stalwart signed in Toronto during the offseason—which was viewed as unexciting at best—but Hainsey has played well for the 2nd place Maple Leafs with 2 goals and 10 assists in 27 games. Hainsey is also killing a “ridiculous amount of penalties” something the Penguins and their 23rd rank penalty kill could use. In Hainsey’s place the Penguins signed Matt Hunwick, whose play when he’s been healthy has only been so-so.

CHRIS KUNITZ – LW – Tampa Bay Lightning

Penguin fans second biggest loss after Fleury, the 38-year old Kunitz signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning for 1-year at 2-million dollars. Kunitz is probably missed more in the locker room than on the ice, he has 3 goals and 4 assists on the season and only tallied 29 points in 71 games for the Pens last season.

But Pens fans will always have this:

MARK STREIT – D – Montreal Canadiens/Retired

The veteran defenseman played sparingly for the Pens in the playoffs in 2016-17, playing in just three games. In the offseason, Streit signed with Montreal and played two games before retiring.

OSKAR SUNDQVIST – D – St. Louis Blues

Part of the controversial Ryan Reaves deal, Sundqvist didn’t play in last year’s playoff run, but many still considered him part of the Pens’ future. For the Blues, Sundqvist has 0 goals and 3 assists in 23 games while playing 11 minutes a night on the fourth line.

DAVID WARSOFSKY – D – San Antonio Rampage (AHL) via Colorado Avalanche

Warsofsky played in seven games for the Pens in 2016-17 and didn’t play in the playoffs. The 27-year old signed with Colorado in the offseason and is currently playing for their AHL affiliate.

SCOTT WILSON – C/LW – Detroit Red Wings

Traded in the Riley Sheahan deal, Wilson had a productive 2016-17 playing mostly on the 4th line for the Pens. In 78 games during the regular season, Wilson tallied 8 goals and 16 assists, and added 6 points in 20 games in the playoffs. However, since going to Detroit, Wilson has 0 points in 17 games—perhaps he got the Sheahan curse?

Kenna James at Blush
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Sue

    December 3, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Sure do miss them all especially Fleury and Kunitz. It’s hard to lose your favorite players.

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