The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without one of their top offensive weapons for the rest of the season. Jake Guentzel has undergone shoulder surgery after suffering an injury last night and is expected to be out for four to six months.
Guentzel, 25, had taken his game to another level this season, leading the Penguins in scoring through the first part of the season with 43 points in 39 games. His presence at the top of the lineup had been the only real constant this season as Pittsburgh dealt with injuries to almost every other impact player, including Sidney Crosby who remains out. Guentzel had been rewarded with his first All-Star appearance, though obviously he now will not be able to attend (or, at least play).
This is just the latest in a brutal string of injuries for Pittsburgh, and yet the team continues to stay near the top of the standings in the Metropolitan Division. Thanks to a successful makeshift lineup and strong goaltending, the group sits in second place with a 24-11-4 record and only seven points behind the Eastern Conference-leading Washington Capitals. In fact, Pittsburgh is on an 8-2 run in their last ten and now have the second best goal differential in the entire NHL.
Losing Guentzel for the rest of the year though will hurt dearly, as the young forward was averaging nearly 21 minutes a night and had turned into a real star in this league. A recovery period of four months would potentially allow him to return for some playoff action, but the team may have to try and win the Stanley Cup without Guentzel this season.