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Is Jake Guentzel the Penguins Greatest Winger?

Jake Guentzel has moved quickly into the conversation with some Pittsburgh Penguins greats.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have three no-doubt Hall of Famers in their lineup with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. Entering into the latter parts of their respective careers, the Penguins have needed a younger star to emerge. 

Enter Jake Guentzel. 

Since his arrival in Pittsburgh during the 2016-2017 season, he has blossomed into a bonafide superstar. Head coach Mike Sullivan recently endorsed that notion, stating he has "quietly emerged as one of the superstars in the league." He tied Crosby for the team lead this season with 84 points, in addition to his second 40-goal season. 

With this much success five years into his career, the question must be asked: where does Guentzel stand amongst the all-time Penguins wingers? 

The Penguins have a long list of illustrious wingers. And with all due respect to the likes of Rick Tocchet, Rick Kehoe, and Chris Kunitz, the list starts only with the great Jaromir Jagr. 

The pride of Kladno put up over 1,900 in his NHL career and ranks fourth all-time in scoring in a Penguins uniform, scoring 1079 points during his time in Pittsburgh. He's one of the best players to ever live, and with nothing but love to Guentzel, it's unlikely any Penguins winger ever eclipses the individual accomplishments Jaromir Jagr achieved. 

Jagr also edges Guentzel in Stanley Cups, two to one. 

Perhaps a more realistic level to project Guentzel into is the next tier below, otherwise known as the Kevin Stevens level. 

Over parts of nine seasons in a Penguins uniform, Stevens put up 260 goals and 555 points. He won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992, and put up a career best 123 points in the '91-92 regular season. 

Stevens also played with a nasty streak and was physical in all three zones. At 6'3, 230-pounds, Stevens is the premier "power forward" in the Pittsburgh Penguins pantheon, but his game certainly has similarities to Guentzel's today. 

Both players thrive, or thrived, on plays near the net. Despite his smaller size, Guentzel is tenacious around the crease and has amazing finishing ability, much like Stevens. Both players also have multiple 40 goal campaigns playing next to generational superstars. 

Will Guentzel be able to surpass the totals Stevens put up? I'd be willing to bet a large sum that he does.

At only 27-years-old, time is on Guentzel's side to try to continue to chip away at these looming figures in Penguin history. Through his first career 375 games, he's put up 341 points, for an average .91 points a game. If he can continue this for the next five years, and stay healthy, he will easily put himself into the top five of all-time Penguins scorers. 

The top four of Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jaromir Jagr are mostly set in stone, but that fifth spot is well within reach. 

His postseason numbers are outstanding as well, putting up 50 points in 52 career playoff games. He is a big time player who continues to show up for the Penguins and will continue to be a huge part of this team in the future. 

With all that said, I do believe firmly that Jake Guentzel is the greatest Pittsburgh Penguin's winger of the salary cap era, with a great chance to be even more.  

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