Pittsburgh Penguins’ forward Brian Gibbons has been bouncing back-and-forth between the AHL and NHL for most of this season.
He needs to stay up in the NHL.
Understandably, Pittsburgh probably wanted him to get game-action in over the Olympic break – which is why he was sent down during that time – but now that he’s been recalled to the Pens’ roster, he should remain there.
Skating on the top-line before being re-assigned, Gibbons was excelling, molding into a steady right winger for captain Sidney Crosby.
While outsiders are speculating on who general manager Ray Shero will acquire at the trade deadline to put on Crosby’s right side, people forget they can infiltrate a winger within the system, due to their depth. And that forward has been here all along, we just haven’t fully acknowledged his existence – Gibbons.
Gibbons is fast – period. That specialty fits with Crosby – and Chris Kunitz for that matter – because the captain commands a very uptempo-type style. If you have everybody in a three person pairing moving at the same pace, the chemistry for said group is unlimited.
Gibbons is gradually becoming more-and-more comfortable as the season rolls along. Over the last three contests with Pittsburgh, Gibbons has recorded two goals on just an average of 12:09 minutes of ice-time.
For the season, Gibbons has nine points (4G, 5A) in 19 games, and is skating to a solid plus-3 rating. In the last 10 contests, Gibbons has collected seven points (3G, 4A), and he does an excellent job of staying out of the sin-bin because he’s got just one two-minute minor.
Although there’s some concerns towards his inexperience with the postseason, which is a reasonable thought, I don’t think they should put too much into it.
Crosby is a great player – arguably, well, the best player in the world. He includes every player around him, and they thrive off of him. Gibbons is seizing his moment, and in my opinion, should continue to thrive alongside number-87.
However, the situation with forward Beau Bennett is, in a way, complicating the scenario.
Bennett just keeps getting injured, but when healthy, is a threat to opposing defenses – especially when paired with Crosby. Because he suffered another setback - per Michelle Crechiolo of the Pens’ website – Pittsburgh needs to be persistent with Gibbons and proceed in giving him the tryout for Crosby’s right wing.
Or at least keep him in the NHL.
If he can’t somehow manage to fulfill the Pens’ desires for slotting in as Crosby’s counterpart, I’m sure he would stabilize that inconsistent third-line Pittsburgh’s got.
The secondary scoring for the Pens has been putrid – awful. So, if anything, Gibbons presence in the bottom-six would push them through that threshold – provide a better offensive outlook.
It’s no secret the kid can play, so just give him a shot. Keep him in the big leagues.
Recognizing their cap dilemma, they may have no other choice.