On September 11, forward Chuck Kobasew said he was going to “come in and work hard and try to do my stuff and see what happens.”
That was Kobasew’s first day in Penguins training camp on a professional tryout contract.
Fast forward three weeks to the day, and Kobasew must have displayed the right “stuff” in practice and exhibition games – as the Penguins rewarded him with a one-year contract with an average annual value of $550,000, executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero announced Wednesday.
“I am very excited,” Kobasew said. “It was a process for me. I came here on a tryout hoping to do something; to earn a spot and I am very fortunate for something to happen.”
Kobasew, 31, spent the past two seasons as a member of the Colorado Avalanche, tallying 23 points (12G-11A) in 95 regular-season contests. In his 10 NHL seasons with Calgary, Boston, Minnesota and Colorado, Kobasew scored 20-plus goals three times.
He displayed some of that goal-scoring acumen at times throughout the preseason, chipping in two goals – tying for second on the team – and an even rating in five exhibition contests for the Penguins.
The Osoyoos, British Columbia-native talked in mid-September about the role he could play, saying that the Penguins are “very skilled. I am trying to bring some energy, be physical.”
After skating on a line with Brandon Sutter and Beau Bennett during practice on Wednesday, Pittsburgh’s potential third-line trio is expected to be productive from the get-go in the Penguins season opener Thursday night at CONSOL Energy Center.
“You got [Sutter] who is a great two-way centerman and Beau who is very skilled,” Kobasew said. “And like I said earlier in training camp, I have to bring that simple game, that hard game, get on the forecheck, be physical and hopefully contribute with them.”
Head coach Dan Bylsma said that Kobasew shined when competing for that bottom-six role throughout camp and that the Bennett-Sutter-Kobasew line combination has a “good chance” of skating together Thursday night versus the New Jersey Devils.
“He [Kobasew] came into camp with an opportunity to compete for a spot on our team, particularly in this case in a third line role, which he was given all throughout camp,” Bylsma said. “We saw him play on the power play, saw him play on the penalty kill, all things that he did well and did for our team. So, he brought those things, he competed, and I think he’ll have the opportunity to still being in those different elements for our team and different spots and mean different things.”
Kobasew said regardless of what roles he is going to be expected to perform in, Thursday evening will be a memory he won’t soon forget.
“Yeah, I’m excited,” he said. “It is nice to get things going and it’ll be special for me to put that jersey on.”