In a Stanley Cup Final matchup headlined by stars such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and PK Subban, the name that has stood out the most by far has been Woodbury, Minnesota’s own Jake Guentzel. After scoring twice in last night’s Game 2, Guentzel has set rookie playoff records for scoring (19), GWG’s (5), and has moved up to 2nd all time in goals scored by a rookie in a single postseason (12) behind Dino Ciccarelli (14). With at least 2 games remaining this postseason, this may not (probably will not) be the last time you see the name Jake Guentzel on the scoresheet.
Just a quick bit of information; Jake’s father, a former standout hockey player at the University of Minnesota, became an associate head coach for the team and allowed Jake to be a stick boy for the team in which future Penguins teammate Phil Kessel played. Here is a Player’s Tribune write-up from Guentzel on this experience that is worth checking out.
Anyways, In 2013 he capped off an incredible season for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL in which he tallied 73 points (29G-44A), good for 6th in the entire league, by being drafted in the 3rd round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft (77th overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He attended the University of Nebraska-Omaha (one of the most surprisingly good D1 hockey programs, by the way) and played there for 3 seasons in which he posted 1.1 PPG for his career. To end his college career, he signed a 3-year ELC with Pittsburgh and well…the rest is history (actually).
In a brief stint with the Penguins AHL affiliate in Scranton, he tallied 48 points in just 44 games across 2 seasons. Despite the relatively small sample size in the minors, it’s pretty clear at this point that he can play at the professional level, the only question there would be is how well?
Thus far in his professional career, he is far from just a postseason standout. In 40 regular season games, he tallied 33 points (16G-17A), good for .83 PPG, a scoring pace which is incredible for a 22 year-old rookie. To put that number in perspective, fellow Americans Phil Kessel and Zach Parise had a PPG of .79 and .76 in their 22 year-old seasons respectively, both with prior NHL experience. Now, say what you want about him being line-mates with the best player in the world in Sidney Crosby and how it could inflate his numbers a bit, but it takes two to tango and Guentzel’s skill and hockey IQ is apparent on a national stage. Right next to teammate Evgeni Malkin, he is among the early favorites to win the Conn Smythe given at the conclusion of the SCF. Winning a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe would be the perfect stamp on his rookie season and a benchmark for what could be the beginning of an incredible NHL career. So whatever you do, DO NOT forget the name Jake Guentzel.