This article is the seventh in a series ranking all Penguins throughout history from different countries. Some lists will rank just the top 10, due to the number of players from those countries. Today, we continue by ranking the top Penguins players from Canada.
There have been nearly 500 Canadian players to suit up for the Penguins in their history — 299 forwards, 135 defensemen, and 50 goaltenders
Let’s rank the top 10 Canadian Penguins, not necessarily in terms of overall skill, but by their impact on the Penguins during their time in Pittsburgh.
10. SYL APPS JR.
Apps was the Penguins' greatest center before Mario Lemieux came to town, playing on the Century Line with Jean Pronovost and Lowell MacDonald that combined for over 100 goals and 200 assists in four consecutive seasons.
The Penguins acquired Apps and defenseman Sheldon Kannegeisser from the Rangers in January 1971, in exchange for Glen Sather. In 1971-72, Apps' first full season with the Penguins, he led the team in scoring with 15 goals and 44 assists in 72 games.
Apps played in Pittsburgh until November 1977, when he was traded to the Kings along with Hartland Monahan for Dave Schultz, Gene Carr and a fourth-round pick.
Apps scored 500 points over 495 games, the ninth-most in Penguins history. His 151 goals rank 14th in franchise history, and his 349 assists rank seventh.
9. JEAN PRONOVOST
Pronovost was the star of the Penguins' first decade.
The Penguins acquired Pronovost and Jon Arbour from the Bruins in May 1968 in exchange for cash. Pronovost went on to play on the Century Line with Apps and MacDonald.
Pronovost and Pierre Larouche were the first Penguins to have 50-goal and 100-point seasons, doing so in 1975-76. Pronovost captained the Penguins in his final season in Pittsburgh, in 1977-78.
“I played over my head … 52 goals," he recalled in 1985. "I knew that I was not a 52-goal scorer, but I enjoyed the moment.”
Pronovost scored 316 goals and 287 assists over 753 games during his 10 seasons in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins traded Pronovost to the Bruins in September 1978, in exchange for Gregg Sheppard.
8. RICK KEHOE
Kehoe was arguably the best player in team history in the pre-Lemieux era.
The Penguins acquired Kehoe from the Maple Leafs in September 1974, in exchange for Blaine Stoughton and a first-round draft pick in 1977.
Kehoe played the remainder of his career in Pittsburgh, scoring 312 goals and 324 assists in 722 games over the next 11 seasons. He was forced to retire six games into the 1984-85 season as a result of an injury to the vertebrae in his neck.
Kehoe was a two-time All-Star and winner of the Lady Byng Trophy as a member of the Penguins. He scored no fewer than 27 goals in nine of his 10 full seasons with the Penguins, including a 55-goal season in 1980-81. He was one of the best snipers of his era.
7. LARRY MURPHY
Murphy spent just five seasons of his 21-year Hall of Fame career in Pittsburgh, but he made a big impact in that short time.
The Penguins acquired Murphy and Peter Taglianetti from the North Stars in December 1990, in exchange for Chris Dahlquist and Jim Johnson, the second-most pivotal midseason trade in 1990-91.
With Paul Coffey limited in the 1991 playoffs due to a broken jaw, Murphy stepped up in his absence. Murphy led all defensemen in scoring and finished fourth overall on the team in the 1991 run, recording five goals, 18 assists and a plus-17 rating in 23 games.
Murphy ranks fifth all-time in scoring among Penguins defensemen, with 78 goals and 223 assists in 336 games.
The Penguins traded Murphy to the Leafs in July 1995, in exchange for Dmitri Mironov and a second-round pick.
6. KRIS LETANG
Letang is the best defenseman in this era of Penguins hockey. He's a three-time Stanley Cup champion, tied with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, and Marc-Andre Fleury for the most Cups won by a player in franchise history. Letang scored the Cup-clinching goal in San Jose in 2016.
Letang's career has been affected by numerous health issues, including multiple concussions and a stroke. He's only played more than 70 games twice in the past six seasons, and he missed the 2016-17 playoff run after undergoing neck surgery. Despite this, he's played more games (747) in franchise history than any other defenseman. Next season will be his 14th for the Penguins, the most of any Penguins defenseman and nearly three times as many seasons as the other two defensemen on this list.
Last season Letang eclipsed Coffey as the franchise's all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 493 points, and the all-time leading goal-scorer with 112 goals. In 2017-18, he surpassed Coffey as the franchise's all-time leader in assists among defensemen, with 381.
5. RON FRANCIS
The Penguins acquired Francis, Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings from the Whalers for John Cullen, Zarley Zalapski and Jeff Parker in March 1991, in what would turn out to be the most pivotal (and one-sided) trade in franchise history, propelling the Penguins to back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
Francis' 27 points in 21 games were the third-most on the team in 1992 Stanley Cup run, and he scored the Cup-clinching goal in Game 4 against the Blackhawks in the Cup Final.
Francis produced at a rate of 1.15 points per game during his eight seasons with the Penguins, scoring 164 goals and 449 assists in 533 games. His 613 points rank No. 6 all-time in Penguins history.
4. PAUL COFFEY
Coffey is arguably the Penguins' greatest defenseman in franchise history.
Acquiring Coffey from the Oilers in November 1987 made the Penguins a playoff team for the first time in the Mario Lemieux era.
Coffey led all Penguins defensemen in scoring in the 1987-88 season, finishing fourth overall on the team with 15 goals and 52 assists in 46 games. In Coffey's first full season with the team in 1988-89, he finished No. 3 in scoring with 30 goals and 83 assists in 75 games, and the Penguins made the playoffs for the first time since 1982. He had another 100-plus point season the following year, finishing No. 2 in team scoring with 29 goals and 74 assists in 80 games.
Coffey was limited to 12 games in the 1991 playoffs with a broken jaw. He was able to play in five of the six games of the Stanley Cup Final against the North Stars, including Game 6 when the Penguins clinched their first Stanley Cup in franchise history.
The Penguins traded Coffey to the Kings in February 1992, in exchange for Brian Benning, Jeff Chychrun, and a first-round pick.
Coffey is the franchise's No. 2 all-time leading scorer among defensemen with 440 points in 331 games. He ranks eighth overall in assists, with 332.
3. MARC-ANDRE FLEURY
Fleury is the No. 1 goaltender in franchise history. He's played in more games (691), earned more wins (375), and more shutouts (44) than any other Penguins goaltender. He's tied for the most Stanley Cups won as a player in franchise history (3). His Cup-winning save on Niclas Lidstrom in the final seconds of Game 7 in 2009 would be enough to earn a spot on this list.
2. SIDNEY CROSBY
Crosby is the greatest player of his generation. He's the franchise's all-time leader in games played (943), and ranks second in goals (446), assists (770), and points (1216). His three Stanley Cups are tied for the most won as a player by any Penguin, and he earned the Conn Smythe in 2016 and 2017.
1. MARIO LEMIEUX
He's the greatest to ever play the game, so of course he gets the No. 1 spot on this list. No debate, no further explanation needed.
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