Written by The Burgh Blog writer: Austin Tocco
Many people who started watching the Penguins towards the end of the season might be wondering why Kevin Porter’s name is going to be engraved in the Stanley Cup. Kevin Porter appeared in 41 games this year, but who really knew that. I consider Kevin Porter to be a role player, not going to put up points as much as he should, but is definitely a character player in the organization. The 30 year old Michigan native began his NHL career after being drafted by then the Phoenix Coyotes 119th overall in 2004. Since then, Porter has played for the Colorado Avalanche, the Buffalo Sabres, and now the Pittsburgh Penguins. Porter spent most of the season playing for the minor league affiliate of the Penguins in hope of getting his number called up, which happened this year following several key injuries to the Penguins lineup. The 6 foot center found himself sidelined a little over halfway through the season with an ankle injury that required immediate surgery. This was not good news for Kevin Porter as that ended his season. Since the injury, Porter has been with the team through the entire season for support on and off the ice. Some bandwagon fans might not know who Kevin Porter is, but he deserves his name engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Being a 30 year old is not old by any means, but on a team as youthful as the Penguins were, he was a great mentor to have. Being able to center players like Tom Kuhnhackl and Conor Sheary allowed those young players to grow as teammates and to grow individually. Kevin made the players around him better, the communication he had with his line-mates before the puck drop stood out to me. You could see him skate back and forth between line-mates trying to develop a quick outlet to generate a scoring opportunity. Playing with those younger guys truly did make them better, look what they did in the playoffs. Off the ice, Porter was there every step of the way. When the team came back to the locker room following a game, he was there, very similar to Pascal Dupuis in that aspect. Porter took these players under his wing and truly aided in their development. Porter even sometimes showed the ability to put the puck in the net, but never finished. Lastly, Kevin Porter is extremely affordable for the Penguins organization. He knows that he is at best a fourth line center in the NHL, he might spend most of his time in the minors but he does not care. He jumps at the opportunity to make a difference no matter what the level and you can tell he enjoys it every step of the way whether it is with Wilkes-Barre or with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Expect to see Kevin Porter during some of the season next year.
Regardless of your role on the team, not scoring a goal in 41 games in unimpressive to say the least. He might be on the 4th line but there is a need for production from your depth players to ease the pressure off of players like Crosby and Malkin. That is why the Penguins success was so impressive down the stretch, because out of nowhere came the HBK line and Matt Cullen started lighting the lamp more often. Depth is a great attribute to a championship team and the Penguins were able to get that this year, not so much when Kevin Porter was on the ice. Porter also missed many of chances to light the lamp, you cannot miss that many chances and expect to stay in the league very long. His shot is not extremely accurate and does not have much speed. Kevin will have to really work on that this summer if he wants a shot to make the big league roster next fall. It will be very challenging for him to do so with Matt Cullen potentially coming back for another season.
2016 Statistics + Playoffs:
+/- : -2
Porter will make $575,000 next season for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. Following the 2016-17 season, he will become an unrestricted free agent.
Overall Rating: D+