This is going back a few years, but when Mario Lemieux first broke into the league in 1984 the Penguins brought up 28 year old minor league winger Warren Young who went on to have a career high 40 goals then unceremoniously left for Detroit and a large paycheck.
Earlier this summer the Atlanta Thrashers dumped 26 year old minor league winger Brett Sterling to the San Jose Sharks for “Future Considerations”, then he was picked up by the Penguins on July 3rd when the San Jose Sharks didn’t make an offer to him. Sterling is quickly getting noticed by Pittsburgh management for the goals he has scored in the scrimmages and how he has gelled with Sidney Crosby being in perfect position to poke in a goal off a great pass from Crosby on Wednesday night.
Scorin’ Warren Young had 53 goals his first full season in the minor leagues for the Baltimore Clippers, Brett Sterling had 55 goals his first full season with the Chicago Wolves. Before Warren Young played his first full season on Mario Lemieux’s line he had played a total of 20 NHL games and had amassed a total of 2 goals. Brett Sterling has played 19 total NHL games and you guessed it, has the same amount of goals as Warren Young had.
The rest of the story has yet to be written, but for Warren Young it was not so glamorous. He took what was considered a big contract back then with the Red Wings, only had 22 goals and was traded back to Pittsburgh the next season where he ended up playing parts of two seasons with the Penguins having 8 goals in 57 games. He then played in the minors for a year, retired and went on to play some roller hockey and to sign autographs at closing video stores.
Brett Sterling’s big issue is size. At only 5’7 he could become a risk on Sidney Crosby’s line if they they do not add a strong winger. I couldn’t tell you if Chris Kunitz who has yet to come close to playing a full season for the Penguins is up to the task, but if Sterling works maybe the Penguins could look at putting Arron Asham on the line. Before you laugh at the Asham idea, keep in mind he had 10 goals last season and is a much needed right handed shot for the Penguins.
A big issue for Sterling right now is that Crosby is out with a hip injury, so he may not get a chance to prove his worth on Crosby’s line before the season starts and might get pushed down to the WBS Penguins. The Penguin coaches should give Sterling a shot even if the reason is that Billy Guerin, the only other person that seemed to work well with Crosby had only 21 goals in 78 games last year.
The moral of the story for Brett Sterling is that if he gets the job and has a good season, he might want to take a little less money and stay with a good thing.