Penguins Forward Could Get Great Opportunity To Start Season With Guentzel Injury

The Pittsburgh Penguins are definitely going to be using the preseason to find out who is best suited for a top-six role on the wing while Jake Guentzel heals up. He's not expected to miss a ton of time, but could be out for the entirety of October. At any point in the season, games are meaningful, especially considering the Penguins missed the playoffs by just one point last season and made changes to get themselves back into contention.

While Reilly Smith was acquired, Rickard Rakell, Bryan Rust, and Smith can only fill three of the four positions on the wing in the top-six. I think that Alex Nylander finally gets a good look this season with the Penguins. Originally drafted in 2016 at eighth overall, he definitely hasn't lived up to expectations yet. He bounced from the Buffalo Sabres to the Chicago Blackhawks, then landed in Pittsburgh. He only played nine games for the Penguins, scoring a goal and two points. It was his first NHL appearance since the 2019-20 season with the Blackhawks where he scored 10 goals and 26 points in 65 games.

Nylander is only 25 years old. That isn't young, but it also isn't too late for a breakout either. Some players are late bloomers, and his production in the AHL last season reinforced that theory. He put up 25 goals and 50 points in 55 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. The organization knows he can score, and who else do they have to fill the hole until Guentzel gets back? The other options include Matt Nieto, Drew O'Connor, Rem Pitlick, or maybe another veteran from the bottom-six that shouldn't be playing that high in the lineup. Nylander is the best choice and it could turn his career around.

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