Pittsburgh Penguins social media squad tweeted that Jake Guentzel would drop down to the third center position on Thursday.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are injury stricken. Among those on the shelf are Carter Rowney. With #37 unable to go, the Penguins will shift lines and play Jake Guentzel on the third line in between Carl Hagelin and Daniel Sprong.
Guentzel has played on the wing all season. However, prior to joining the NHL, he suited up as a centerman.
Guentzel told Michelle Crechiolo of NHL.com/Penguins:
"I’m comfortable there. You notice it in the D zone. You have to be harder there and stronger on guys. You get more involved taking faceoffs. It’s a challenge. You have to be smart when you attack and use a good stick."
Another interesting component of the American forward’s transition is that it means he’ll play next to highly touted winger Daniel Sprong. Sprong has played as advertised so far this season, firing eight shots on net in two games. His defensive play is nothing to write home about, nor a hindrance. However, the release on his shot is very impressive.
Sprong also chimed in regarding playing with Guentzel:
"We skated with each other in Wilkes my first year when he came out of college and I came out of junior. Had a chance to play with him there and just by watching him here, he’s doing really good, so excited to play with him."
So there is comfort and some familiarity here. The Pens have been on the hunt for a third line center for some time now. Since being acquired by the Penguins, center Riley Sheahan has played well, but it’s clear he excels in the defensive aspects of the game.
Jake Guentzel and Daniel Sprong could provide the team with the suitable third line “punch” they’re seeking.