The Penguins have traded Alex Grant to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Harry Zolnierczyk. Zolnierczyk is probably most famous in the NHL for trying to purposely hurt Penguins, like this time earlier this year when he boarded Robert Bortuzzo, and assorted other incidents like these:
(Okay, he’s clearly not a very good fighter…)
Oh, also he’s a pending RFA and the Penguins would have exactly one week to give him an offer sheet if they have any intention of signing him to a new contract.
And are you ready for this: as though he didn’t have a strangely ’70s porn-star name to begin with he was once charged and issued a conditional discharge for his part involving the production and distribution of a pornographic video involving an underage girl. And two counts of “electronic voyeurism.”
But I’ll be damned if I don’t like this acquisition. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on his past infidelities. It’s funny because I happen to know of a hot shot hockey player who got in trouble for very similar reasons when I was in high school… And what he brings to the Penguins is significant: he’s a pure agitator, something the Penguins can’t claim to have had in at least 3 years. And the cost for him was a guy who hasn’t even locked down a full-time position in the AHL yet, despite several years of professional hockey under his belt.
I doubt Zolnierczyk has been brought in to be a starter: Seth Rorabaugh pointed out that he doesn’t have much history of killing penalties (and he takes a lot of them) so he hasn’t been brought in to replace Craig Adams or Matt Cooke. What he’s been brought in for is to be mean. Which is a lot more than recent tough guy flops: Steve MacIntyre and Tanner Glass who seem afraid of actually stepping up for their teammates when that’s exactly what their job entails. Even then Zolnierczyk is different than those two: again he’s an agitator, more in the vain of classic Matt Cooke or Brad Marchand (although not as good at actually playing hockey) he’ll push the boundaries, and probably occasionally cross them. He’ll get in the head of opposing players and cause them fits like we saw in the Boston series at the hands of Marchand and company.
By no means do we like “dirty players” and he would probably easily qualify for that moniker. But the Penguins do need more passion, more intimidation, they need to be a little less predictable. That’s what Zolnierczyk has the ABILITY to do for the Penguins. WILL he do it? Well I was pretty wrong on Tanner Glass’s ability to help this team last year.