The Pittsburgh Penguins seem to have a love affair with taking players whose hockey pedigree may not seem like much, and then turning them into superstars. The first line of the Pens boasts two undrafted players that help make up one of the best lines in the game. Ray Shero has a brilliance about him in his ability to see what a player could be, and not what they may currently be. The newest addition to this standard seems to be Chuck Kobasew, and with two game winning goals in two games, he is not disappointing.
Kobasew joined the Penguins after he was invited to camp on a professional tryout. After posting two goals in five pre-season games this was an easy signing for Shero. The deal is one for year, $550,000 and if he keeps up his current pace, this could be one of the best signings Shero has ever had. When asked during the pre-season about the opportunity to play with the Pens Kobasew stated; "For me, it's just an opportunity ... I have no idea where exactly their openings may be, but I just want to come in here, put a good foot forward and see what happens."
“You don’t come in here saying hello to your teammates. You come in here in a complete competition. The guy across from you is a guy you’re competing for a job with.” -Dan Bylsma
Kobasew has played with multiple organizations including the Boston Bruins, Minnesota Wild, Calgary Flames, and Colorado Avalanche while amassing 108 goals and 208 points during that time. He has had
three 20 plus goal seasons, once in 2005-06 and then back-to-back years from 2007-09. Kobasew however saw his overall production slip after that final 20 goal season and has been nothing more than a low scoring journeyman man since. He went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2003-04 with the Flames but has never won one. I am sure he is hoping to change this with the Penguins.
Kobasew sticks to a more casual approach (a concept that a majority of Pittsburghers can grasp) and it works well for him. He does not try to bring a fancy style to his game, but rather a physical one. He checks left and right and hunts the puck. He drives to the net constantly and is not afraid to use his body. He has far exceeded his value in the first two games of the season and this value can only go up as the season continues
He is probably exactly what the Pens need; not flashy but rather consistent. Pairing him with some of the best players in the NHL cannot hurt either. The Penguins have all of the offense that they need. What they need is grit, which is exactly what Kobasew brings.
As per what the future holds for Kobasew, no one really knows. If he continues to play like he has thus far, it would be hard to not sign him again depending on price. But it’s a big if. History has showed he is on and off but maybe the Penguins are exactly what he needed. Maybe, at 31 years old, his best hockey has not even been played yet.