Welcome to the newest weekly segment on Let’s Talk Pens called “Stock up/Stock down”. Here, one of the members of our team will take two players who’s stock have trended up from the recent week of games. They will do the same for two players who are trending down.
Pretty simple concept right? Let’s begin.
After the first week of the NHL season, the Penguins are 1-1-0. They narrowly defeated the Capitals 7-6 in overtime and were trounced by Montreal 5-1.
Which players should you buy and sell your stocks in? Let’s dive in.
I wouldn’t quite call it a make or break season for defenseman Kris Letang. But after a below average season coming off a major surgery last year, Letang has already made his mark.
Letang started by posting a team-high four points in the first week including the overtime game winner against Washington. He’s averaging 25:06 TOI through two games, also a team high by 3 1/2 minutes.
Paired again with his partner Brian Dumoulin, Letang is flying again and skating seamlessly. You’ve got to be excited if you’re a Penguins fan. The elite defenseman might just be back to full-strength.
Letang also netted the 441st point of his career. In doing so, he passed Paul Coffey for number one on the franchise’s all-time list.
He’s on the rise for certain.
If you went by just the first game, Daniel Sprong might not grade out too highly. Combine the two games of work and Sprong isn’t looking too bad.
Head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t get the young Dutchman much time to acclimate himself in the opening game. He said as much in the presser following the win.
He made it a priority to get him some more ice and he did. Sprong played almost five additional minutes in game two and rewarded the coach with an assist. He now has two in as many games.
With the Penguins only scoring once on Saturday night and Sprong nabbing one of those assists, it’s a big plus.
Even more encouraging is that he hasn’t quite looked lost defensively either. Now he won’t be getting penalty killing duties anytime soon, but he has made strides to be better in that department.
Consider Sprong a commodity on the rise.
It’s been a rough first two games for the embattled youngster. Matt Murray loves nothing more than a challenge. His first one will be how he responds on Thursday night.
He will be facing Marc-Andre Fleury at home where he out-dueled his mentor last season. He will do so after allowing 11 goals in the first two games.
Murray allowed six against the Capitals who were on the back end of a back-to-back situation. He followed that up with a sloppy five goals allowed against Montreal Saturday.
Without any true competition behind him threatening for a starting job, the Penguins have to help Murray out a bit. The defense hasn’t looked good in front of him but a goalie’s job is to make saves and he hasn’t quite made enough.
His stock took a hit in the opening week but he’s not a lost cause. You can expect an eventual bounce back for him.
Many in the Penguins fan base seem pleasantly unpleased with Olli Maatta on a constant basis. Every mistake he makes is magnified.
The first two games were filled with awful mistakes and indecisiveness. His lack of skating speed doesn’t help.
Maatta is so young that I personally find it hard to call him a bust yet. Some have already shelled out the label.
He is locked up for six more seasons at a reasonable price in today’s salary capped league. The length is scary to some but the price could look better and better each year with more and more space.
His lack of speed is different from the Penguins style but the effectiveness of his skating makes him serviceable.
Regardless, he was blown by and missed a few too many assignments in these first two games to say his stock isn’t falling.
The segment will run again next Monday morning after meetings with the Vegas Golden Knights and Montreal for the second time in three games.