The Pittsburgh Penguins are expected to utilize their prospects down in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton more often this next season.
Mostly their defensemen because of how many promising young blueliners they possess, but there’s a few forwards who could make an impact for the 2014-15 campaign.
One of their forwards from WBS they recalled that was surprisingly effective this past season was forward Brian Gibbons, who’s also an unrestricted free agent, and could test the market on Jul. 1.
However, because Gibbons is still relatively young (26), and the team can probably re-sign him at a cheap price, Pittsburgh shouldn’t hesitate at offering him a new deal. Due to the fact they arguably can’t afford to bring Jussi Jokinen back, and considering neither Tanner Glass, Marcel Goc, Taylor Pyatt, or even Lee Stempniak and Joe Vitale probably won’t be heavily sought after, Gibbons should be one of the few who remains rostered in Pittsburgh.
Gibbons bursted onto the scene in November, when he garnered two points (1G, 1A) in a game against the stout Anaheim Ducks, and was a flexible option towards the Pens’ line pairings all season. Skating on essentially every line, Gibbons mustered 17 points (5G, 12A) in 41 contests, which is brilliant, given it was his first time being in the NHL and an un-drafted player. But Gibbons’ speed is otherworldly, and he’s a diligent puck hound.
His speed was more noticeable in the playoffs. Spending time on the penalty kill, Gibbons manufactured multiple breakaway opportunities just by applying pressure on the puck handler, and turbo-boosting his way to the opposing netminder. Although he only had three points (2G, 1A) in eight postseason tilts, he was out for five contests due to injury, so, overall, Gibbons’ contributions were steady.
As I mentioned earlier, this was Gibbons first go in the NHL, and it wasn’t even a full season. Should the Braintree, Massachusetts, native be given an entire season, we could potentially see Gibbons mold into a 35-50 point player. And considering the team struggled terribly in the secondary scoring department, Gibbons’ return would be much appreciated. Of course, understandably, there are other teams who’ve taken notice as well.
With the way NHL teams’ change nowadays, players you don’t expect to depart actually do. Just the other day, Philadelphia traded forward Scott Hartnell to Columbus, proving my point that even beloved players aren’t secured. However, if Penguins’ general manager Jim Rutherford can make a pitch to him from now to Jul. 1 (first day of free agency), I’m sure Gibbons would gladly re-sign.
Nonetheless, because Gibbons showed tremendous persistence and determination, he’s exactly the type of player Pittsburgh needs to retain. There’s just no telling what Rutherford will do though.
He seems to be having a hard time just finding a coach.