Simon starting to show worth beyond his small group of believers

Dominik Simon (3-5-8) continues to show signs of being a pivotal breakthrough player for the Penguins this season.

Getting cheap labor from a spot or two in your top-9 is always a must for a Cup contending team against the cap.

While the fan base, pundits wanted him shipped to Wheeling after last post-season, the coaching staff starting with assistant Mark Recchi who has been a big Simon backer from day 1 saw this coming.

Simon enters tonight’s game vs Toronto riding a five game points streak.

Some key #’s that standout.

At 5-on-5, Simon (9/3, 75%) is tied with Sidney Crosby (12/4, 75%) for first on the team in Goals For Percentage and Simon is tops on the team in Scoring Chance For Percentage at 55.43%, just a tick above Crosby.

— One surprise through 11 games: Carl Hagelin and Bryan Rust have only combined for 2 goals. When Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are scoring like they are, Hagelin’s production becomes an afterthought because of what he means to that line away from the puck and tracking the puck on the forecheck.

Pittsburgh believed Hagelin with an early summer and in a contract year was set to get back to that 15-17 goal range but Hagelin with 1 goal in 11 games isn’t much of a story because of how well he’s playing in other areas and what he means to that line.

— The Penguins planned to keep Derick Brassard To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

Riley Sheahan has been on the ice for 10 goals against in 5-on-5 play through 11 games. That just can’t continue even if the Penguins are using Sheahan in some tougher assignments late in games. Sheahan is also at 41% in possession.

His 10-11 game increment to start the season has been very poor.

Making Derick Brassard a winger full-time just puts the Penguins back at square one where you don’t have enough difference makers down the middle in the bottom-6.

Compare similar stats all you want, Brassard and Sheahan are not even close to being near the same level of a player.

However, the wing and center question still lingers with Brassard.

There continues to be a friendly tug of war going on between the GM and coach on whether Brassard should play the wing or center, Sullivan favoring To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!

— Growing trend that isn’t going away, Jack Johnson is on the ice for a lot goals against, despite getting fewer and fewer minutes 5-on-5.

Johnson has been on the ice for a team-high 14 goals against. Next closest defenseman is top pairing d-man Brian Dumoulin at 8 who has played 40 more minutes than Johnson.

Olli Maatta who has been dreadful this season has only been on the ice for 6 goals against.

To read this insider news, subscribe to get “Inside Access”!