What an offseason it has been for Teddy Blueger. First off, he signed a shiny new two year, $4.4 million contract. Second, he was protected from the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft. Third, and probably most impressive, he is the captain of Latvia’s hockey team in the Olympic Qualifiers. The hockey world is recognizing Blueger, and it’s looking like he is going to have a great career with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Blueger’s Career So Far
Blueger is from Riga, the capital of Latvia. At the young age of 14, he and his family knew that Blueger likely wouldn’t be able to make it to the NHL in their home country, so they packed up and moved to the United States. With plenty of Junior teams available, Blueger decided to play in Shattuck St. Mary’s prestigious team. How’d he pick that program? Blueger wanted to play on the same team that his idol, Sidney Crosby, played on.
After his third season at Shattuck St. Mary’s, Blueger was drafted 52nd overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft by none other than the Pittsburgh Penguins. He then committed to Minnesota State University where he would continue to develop and perfect his game. However, after Blueger completed his four years, he still wasn’t called up to the NHL. Instead, he reported to Pittsburgh’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. In his fourth year in the AHL, he finally made his debut.
After playing 28 games in the 2018-2019 NHL season, Blueger earned a new contract and officially became a regular. After recording 22 points in both the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 NHL seasons, management not only re-signed Blueger, but also protected him from Seattle in the expansion draft. Management clearly sees something in him, and wants him onboard for years to come.
Blueger’s Underrated Value
Blueger isn’t really known for putting up the points, so he is not often the focus of attention. However, when his other stats are put into consideration it’s clear that he’s quite underrated. Despite being a consistent fourth-liner, Blueger has a career +/- of +19. What does this mean? This means that he’s pretty good at stopping goals from happening.
Blueger is used as a defensive forward, otherwise known as a two-way forward. He is Pittsburgh’s bread and butter when it comes to their penalty-killing unit as he’s more often than not on the ice. He doesn’t have a very flashy playstyle nor a very elegant one as he’s not scared to get in the dirty zones on the ice, and he’s certainly not afraid to drop the gloves if need be.
Where the real value with Blueger lies is with his work ethic and loyalty. When compared to other players, Blueger is always hustling and there’s rarely a time where he’s not going 100 percent. His loyalty is also incredible as he was putting up fantastic numbers in college and in the AHL, but was never called up. Did he request a trade or get discouraged? Absolutely not as it seemed he just worked harder to reach his ultimate goal: playing in the NHL.
What’s Next For Blueger?
It’s easy to say that Blueger will be around for at least the next two years. Believe it or not, but he’s a pretty important piece for the Penguins. Although he’s a fourth-liner, Blueger and his linemates have an incredible impact on the games. His defensive style of play matched with his hustle is something that doesn’t come along very often in the NHL.
However, this next season will be one of the main deciding factors on Blueger’s longevity with the Penguins. Pittsburgh wants to have a lot more success in the playoffs than they’ve had in recent years. He hasn’t had that much of an impact in the 11 games he’s played, as he has only recorded one goal and has a cumulative -3.
Nevertheless, Blueger is going to be a huge piece of Pittsburgh’s lineup for the next few years. The only aspect of his game that needs elevation is his play in the postseason. If the Penguins can figure out how to get past the first round, there’s nothing stopping them from having a long and fortuitous playoff run.
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