The Penguins don’t have much of an offensively inclined blue line. Obviously Kris Letang is one of the most offensively inclined defensemen in the NHL. Justin Schultz was a huge boost to the offensive blue line when he was acquired a few short years ago.
One name that doesn’t come to mind when you’re thinking offense is Brian Dumoulin. Dumoulin has seemed to try and change that notion a bit this season.
Through 74 games, Dumoulin shattered his former career high in goals (1) with five so far on the season. He notched his fifth goal on Friday night and added his 11th assist of the season on Sunday. Dumoulin had 16 and 15 points respectively in the past two seasons and sits at 16 currently with two weeks remaining.
The 26-year old signed a six year deal in the offseason after being an anchor on the Letang-less defensive core in last season’s Stanley Cup run. This year, playing with Schultz and Letang, Dumoulin has obviously learned a thing or two from those guys on how the offensive side of things works from the blue line.
In just watching Dumoulin play, there is an added willingness to join the rush when needed. He is more inclined to throw the puck on net and not be passive to his teammates.
Despite adding the offensive awareness this season, his defensive work hasn’t taken much of a hit. He is making $4.1 million a season until 2023-24′. In this season, Dumoulin has been worth every penny of it to this point.
The thing with Dumoulin is that he is never going to be considered a star defenseman because his niche is more of a shutdown role. He won’t put up 40 and 50 point seasons. He will likely get around 15-20 per season and score in a limited capacity. He is a stay-at-home defenseman that has drawn the toughest assignments all year long with his partner Letang.
Ironically, general manager Jim Rutherford traded Dumoulin when he acquired Jordan Staal from the Penguins during his time in Carolina. Now, Rutherford set up his long term top pairing defenseman with a brand new contract over the offseason. He reportedly was the defenseman the Maple Leafs wanted in the Phil Kessel deal a few years back. The Penguins gave upScott Harrington instead.
Rutherford’s trady savvy mindset helped him find a hidden gem that was considered a throw-in when the Penguins acquired him.