TIOPS FORECASTER: CHRIS KUNITZ
2013-2014 Stats: 78 GP – 35 Goals – 33 Assists – 68 Pts
Chris Kunitz had a career season in 2013-2014, scoring a career high 35 goals and 68 points. Kunitz was tied for first on the team with 20 5 v 5 goals, scoring 1.064 goals/60 5 v 5, tops on the team among players who appeared in over 20 games.
Kunitz posted a 52.2 CF%, 5th among Penguins forwards who appeared in over 40 games.
Kunitz started the 2013-2014 campaign on a tear with 23 goals in his first 43 games, posting a shooting percentage of 18.4 percent. Kunitz, though, cooled off a bit from January on with 15 goals over his last 48 games, including playoffs.
Kunitz tallied just 3 goals in the post-season and 6 goals over his last 25 games (12 regular season, 13 playoff games)
Turning 35 in September, Kunitz plays such a tough style that his body is bound to break down at somepoint over the next couple years and he appears primed to take a step back statistically in 2014-2015, the question is just by how much.
Was Kunitz fading down the stretch more about him wearing down from the long season of appearing in the Olympics or is it a sign of things to come?
When the puck drops on October 9th, Sidney Crosby’s projected two wingers will have a combined age of 70 and one of them being Pascal Dupuis, also 35, is coming off ACL surgery and last season showed signs of regressing offensively with 7 goals in 39 games last season.
The Penguins will look at different options on Crosby’s right wing throughout camp with Beau Bennett, Patrick Hornqvist, Steve Downie all expected to get looks, but it’s a near certainty Dupuis will be in that spot opening night until he proves he can’t play there anymore.
The Penguins have lost a lot of scoring on the wing with James Neal and Jussi Jokinen gone. There’s at least a projected 55 goals the Penguins need to replace elsewhere.
While most just remember Neal disappointing in the playoffs, most seemed to forget he was over a point per game player last season and produced at an 84 point pace last season.
Forecasting Chris Kunitz 2014-2015 Season:
26 Goals – 33 Assists – 59 points