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Bringing back Chris Kunitz

June 12, 2018, 12:32 PM ET [41 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
I spent some time looking through this year’s UFA pool and there isn’t a lot there that makes sense for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They don’t have a lot of holes in the lineup and the ones they do have are going to be best filled by making trades. One low end area on the roster that could be easily improved is the fourth line left wing. I would have absolutely no interest in bringing back Tom Kuhnhackl. The front office may disagree, but there is no evidence to support his continued employment by a team that is still chasing Stanley Cups.

It shouldn’t be incredibly difficult to find his replacement and there is an unrestricted free agent that is quite familiar and shouldn’t break the bank. I am talking about bringing back Chris Kunitz on a one-year 1M kind of contract. The expectations on a potential return should be tempered for how you would expect to use him. This is no longer a Chris Kunitz that is going to move up and down the lineup. This would be a fourth line and penalty killing Chris Kunitz. This would be similar in strategy to using Matt Cullen on the fourth line. This would be a return to getting some offense from the fourth line while not spending a lot of money.

Like I said the bar isn’t very high to clear when replacing Tom Kuhnhackl

Chris Kunitz had a 5v5 points per 60 of 1.68 in a fourth line role last year. That is perfect. He isn’t the possession monster he used to be, but he isn’t a black hole either. It’s not like the Baby Penguins have a ton of depth banging on the door that will guarantee better results.

If you can get Kunitz on a one-year deal at the proper price point I don’t see how that doesn’t improve the Penguins depth and improve their ability to generate offense with all four lines. A Kunitz-Sheahan combo with options such as Zach Aston-Reese, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, and Daniel Sprong potential players for the third spot on the line depending on the kinds of things Mike Sullivan wants to do at a given time.

Sometimes it’s worth going with the devil you know rather than the one you don’t. There are a lot of worse options than Chris Kunitz playing on your fourth line. The Penguins had one just last year.

Thanks for reading!
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