Geek of the Week: Jake Guentzel Is High Risk and High Reward

Scott Maran

2018-06-17


There were many stellar performances during the postseason, but none may top that of Jake Guentzel. Despite the Pittsburgh Penguins being bounced in the second round of the playoffs, Guentzel put on quite a performance. People have noticed, and this will surely affect his draft ranking by the start of the fantasy season. But with Guentzel’s incredibly high ceiling also comes high risk, as he may be one of the biggest boom or busts draft picks at the start of the fantasy hockey season.

Despite only being drafted 77th overall, Guentzel quickly rose through the ranks and became a prized prospect in the Penguins’ farm system. After scoring 42 points in 33 AHL games as a 22 year old, Guentzel graduated full-time to the NHL, where he continued to shine. In his first NHL season, Guentzel managed to score 33 points in only 40 games, with only three of those points being scored on the power play. Out of all rookie skaters Guentzel finished with the third highest point-per-game rate, ahead of players such as Mitch Marner and William Nylander and behind only Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. He was also only one of two rookies in the top 10 in points per game to have less than five power-play points, posting almost all of his production at even strength.

Things didn’t go as well for Guentzel this season (0.59 pts/g compared to 0.82 pts/g) but this year’s playoff run cemented his reputation as a dynamite scorer. Through only 12 games Guentzel tallied 11 goals and 21 points, tied for the fifth-most points in the entire playoffs. He also finished tied for the second-highest points-per-game rate in the postseason, behind only Sean Couturier (who only skated in five games).

Everyone knew Guentzel had plenty of offensive skill, but his playoff performance revealed glimpses of his superstar potential. Since 2005, Guentzel’s point-per-game rate of 1.75 is the third highest ever posted in a single postseason. And out of all players who had to play in at least 10 games, Guentzel’s is tied for the highest. It’s not every day a player posts the kind of numbers Guentzel did during the playoffs. Though it’s obviously a very small sample, combined with his rookie season, it’s obvious that Guentzel can score.

And the best part is that Guentzel is still getting better. At only 23 years old, Guentzel still has some of his best years ahead of him. He’s only had experience playing in the NHL for two seasons, making it very likely that next year is the year we see a full-fledged breakout. It’s rare for a rookie to instantly become a superstar in their first year or two in the NHL, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see Guentzel finally put it all together in his third full season. Aleksander Barkov only scored 60 points in his first 125 games before scoring 59 points in 66 ga