3 From 30: Pittsburgh Penguins’ Rising Stars

There was some big disappointment coming from the Pittsburgh Penguins in last year’s playoffs. They went all the way to the Eastern Conference Final, where they choked, and lost 4 straight games to the Boston Bruins, 3 of them being shutouts. Only one goal was scored for the Pens in all 4 games. Even though they were said to have an All-Star team (after adding Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow), they still weren’t good enough to win the Stanley Cup. Let’s see who I think will be rising stars this year in the Penguins uniform.

May 24, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Jussi Jokinen (36) at the face-off circle against the Ottawa Senators during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 6-2 to close out the series. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jussi Jokinen started last season in Carolina, where in 33 games, he recorded 11 points (6G, 5A). He was then moved on to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he matched his point total in Carolina, but it only took him 10 games. Was it the players around him that made this easier to get points in a lesser amount of games? Or was Carolina bringing him down? Maybe it was the fact that he was now part of a so-called “All-Star” team. Next season, I think he can keep it up, and end the season with a little more than a point per game.

Jun 1, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins left wing James Neal (18) chases the puck against Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the second period in game one of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Boston Bruins won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

James Neal became my favorite Pens player after Jordan Staal went to play in Carolina with his brother Eric. The way Neal plays is exciting to watch, and he knows where to put the puck, and when to do it. Last season, Neal recorded 36 points in his 40-game run. His 21 goals and 15 assists were very good, but he wasn’t much help in the playoffs. In 13 games, he only managed 10 points. It’s hard to put all the pressure of the playoffs on one player, but he could have done a little more, I think. Expect him to put up some great numbers this season.

June 5, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) hits Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) along the boards during the third period in game three of the Eastern Conference finals of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Brooks Orpik’s stats were a little hard to look at at first. In 46 games, this defenseman only recorded 8 assists. For those of you who like the numbers, he had .174 points per game last season. Now that’s what I call an eyesore. But if you look just a little further, you’ll see it. His +/-. This player came up with a +17 rating last season. It’s a good rating, and it’s good to see someone out there for goals for rather than goals against, especially as a defenseman. I don’t know what his problem was last year, but I think Orpik has a great chance a rolling in the points this season. My prediction: More than 55 points!

These three players are my choice for rising stars in Pittsburgh. It’s great to hear the readers’ feedback, so let me know what you think. Who should be sitting on the top of this list, and who should be kicked right off? I’d really like to hear what you have to say. Follow us on Twitter @NardoneDylan and @TMMotS.

Topics: FanSided, NHL, Pittsburgh Penguins

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