Pittsburgh Penguins Defense In Perspective


To fully understand the situation surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins defense, we need to look at the defense as a whole. According to NHLNumbers.com, the Penguins have $22.677 mil devoted to the defensemen.

The Penguins loss of Olli Maatta early in the season was perhaps the biggest hit to the team. Maatta provided consistently, solid two-way play, and dependability.

I challenge you to name a top three or four defenseman in the league that has as much impact on a defensive core at the price point of Olli Maatta. It’s impossible to replace Maatta; not solely because of his play, but because of the role he fulfilled coupled with his salary cap hit.

Nov 26, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta (3) skates up ice against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Penguins won 4-3 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins have/had a luxury not many teams; a top defenseman under $1mil. This also allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to pay a veteran defenseman, Rob Scuderi, $3.375mil for four years to play on the third pairing. After having a sub-par season last year while dealing with a nagging injury, Scuderi returned to form this season providing stable defensive play and leadership while helping Simon Despres develop into a solid NHL defender.

Kris Letang and Paul Martin have settled in nicely as a versatile top pairing. After suffering through serious injuries the past two seasons, Letang’s campaign is garnering plenty of Norris trophy consideration. Sitting 1 point behind Calgary defenseman Mark Giordano who also has played six more games than Letang.

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3 bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2023-24
3 bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2023-24 /


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  • Paul Martin’s performance has been exemplary despite lower than average offensive numbers. Martin hasn’t received nearly the amount of power play time this season as last season. Nor can you argue the visual stimulation of his restaurant (not actually his restaurant).

    If nothing changes on Monday at 3PM EST, you’ve got to believe the Pittsburgh Penguins are putting their eggs in the Christian Ehrhoff and Derrick Pouliot basket.

    The challenge we’ll see pairing Ehrhoff and Pouliot is the small sample size we’ve seen from them. No one can argue that Pouliot is a dynamic offensive defender with supreme puck handling skills and wheels that allow him to remove himself from dangerous situations on the ice. It makes sense pairing him with a defenseman like Ehrhoff, who’s known for his point blast in the offensive zone, but also his defensive prowess to rarely make himself a liability.

    Feb 1, 2015; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Derrick Pouliot (51) skates with the puck against the Nashville Predators during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Predators won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Robert Bortuzzo settles in as a capable number seven defenseman with the ability to step into the lineup and pair with any defenseman. Bortuzzo has had an issue with consistency this season, which is likely why he’s been a healthy scratch in favor of Pouliot.

    This should continue.

    The Penguins sure miss Maatta, but the team has a formidable defensive core that will be successful come playoff time.