Courtesy of Point Park University

The 2019-20 prospectus: Erik Gudbranson


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This is the eighth installment in a series of profiles of members of the Penguins' major-league roster, as listed alphabetically on the team's website. There will be one each weekday until all players have been addressed.


Age: 27
Size: 6 foot 5, 217 pounds
Position: Defense
Acquired: Trade with Vancouver, 2019
Salary-cap hit: $4 million, through 2020-21
2018-19 NHL stats: Two goals, eight assists in 76 games (no goals, two assists in 19 games with Penguins)

How he fits: He adds a physical presence and fit in quickly after being acquired from the Canucks -- better than many anticipated -- on the No. 3 defense pairing, where he figures to be deployed during the coming season.

Shortcomings: Gudbranson is not a guy who's going to drive the Penguins' offense; he's managed as many as four goals just once in eight NHL seasons and never has hit double digits in assists. He won't be the favorite in the fastest skater competition at the All-Star Game, either.

Strengths: His greatest strength is, well, strength. This is a seriously tough guy who is willing to play a physical game and seems capable of holding down a shutdown role. He seems to add some good intangibles to the locker-room mix, too.

Hidden variable: Over the course of his career in Florida and Vancouver, Gudbranson had more than his share of struggles on the ice. He also had a hard time simply getting out there for much of his time in the pros, missing 17 or more games five times because of injury or illness. Bottom line: Staying healthy is even more of an issue for him than it is for most players.

2019-20 expectations: Gudbranson exceeded a lot of people's expectations after joining the Penguins -- mind you, the bar was barely above ice-level when he was acquired -- and the challenge now is to prove that he can fill a third-pairing role effectively on an extended basis.

The big question: Was Gudbranson's solid performance after coming over from the Canucks an aberration, or can be continue to provide solid depth on defense?

All profiles to date can be found here.

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