Pittsburgh Penguins: The essentiality of Sam Lafferty

From ending the season in Wilkes Barre/Scranton to now being a critical part of the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, Sam Lafferty has had quite a few months.

The start of this transition in time for Sam Lafferty goes back to before COVID-19. Back in February, the Pittsburgh Penguins got relief from the injury plague and acquired several forwards over the trade period. All of this was good news for Pittsburgh, but not for the Pennsylvania native, as it became very apparent that he may be heading back down to WBS.

Almost in the same thought, the pandemic hit, hockey was halted, and the continuation of injuries remained. Now, with Nick Bjugstad and Dominick Simon out for the season, and Patric Hornqvist still out pending return due to COVID-19 exposure, this is the best chance for Lafferty to shine.

With the before mentioned injuries taking place, Sam has found his place on the third line sharing time with Evan Rodrigues on the right-wing. He is playing alongside the always electric Jared McCann and the “super vet” Patric Marleau. This new predicament hasn’t deterred Mike Sullivan, however, saying this after practice yesterday afternoon:

“It’s great. The internal push that our guys provide for one another all year long, it helps us to be at our best. It helps us to reach our potential, these guys are all proud guys. They all want to be in the lineup.”

Pittsburgh Penguins: The essentiality of Sam Lafferty

The Hollidaysburg native is not new when it comes to the up and down mentality of a budding NHL player; it’s been the definition of his season. After coming out of the gate with a bang, the well dried up in December, putting him on a perpetual roller coaster from then on. However, since the pandemic, the time has slowed down and has given him time to refresh and recoup.

Residing in Arizona over the past few months has meant a few things, good gym time, and even more time to hit the links. The rest and time decompressing, couldn’t have come at a better time, as he now has a real shot at making the roster come game 1.

After putting together a solid rookie season (50 games and 13 points), Sam Lafferty will need to grow off of that. Not only for his future but also the hopeful outlook of the Pittsburgh Penguins heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I wonder what his playoff beard-growing abilities will be like?