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Lean, Fit Tangradi Ready to Earn Spot

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins

The work that Eric Tangradi has been doing this summer has manifested itself on his 6-foot-4 frame.

Because while the big winger remains powerful and strong, his physique is noticeably leaner than it’s been in the past.

“My body fat is as low as I’ve ever had it in my career,” he said. “I really paid attention to my diet this summer. I had a meeting with my trainer in the beginning of the summer and we really took my off-ice training to a whole other level with a lot more explosive exercises as far as heavy lifts. I think it’s definitely helped me on the ice so far. I feel great.”

Tangradi, who returns to his native Philadelphia during the offseason, drives up to New Jersey to work with trainer Kevin Neeld in his brand-new, hockey-centric facility that the Penguins forward calls “amazing.” He’s even added some aquatic exercises to his regimen.

“It is unbelievable how difficult it is,” he said of being in the pool.

Tangradi is just as motivated on the ice, skating twice weekly with Los Angeles Kings assistant coach John Stevens, who used to work in the Flyers organization and who also returns to Pennsylvania in the summers.

“I haven’t really had skates like that in Philly in my whole career,” Tangradi said. “To be able to go out with an NHL coach twice a week and really work on my game has helped me a huge amount. I think I’ve taken leaps and bounds this summer that I haven’t in the past.”

He’s been focusing on quickness and explosiveness, especially in his first step – things he spoke with the Penguins coaching staff about at the end of the season.

“I definitely made an effort to work on my first step,” he said. “I think last year at times I showed it’s not an issue, but to really take it to another level can help me in the corners as far as spinning off D-men and really getting going again.”

Earlier this summer, head coach Dan Bylsma mentioned Tangradi’s name as a possible candidate to fill a top-six forward role this upcoming season.

Moving to one of Pittsburgh’s top two lines would be “a great thrill” for Tangradi, but he knows that spot won’t to be handed to him.

He knows having any spot on the Penguins lineup will be something he has to fight for. And that’s what’s driving him to the gym, the pool and the arena during these warm summer months.

“I think it would be a great thrill,” said Tangradi of a top-six role. “It’s definitely something I would have to earn. I know I’ve shown that I can play a bottom-six role. Going into this camp, I’m going to just try to be myself. I’m not going to try to be someone I’m not. If that awards me a top-six job, great. I’m confident that I can play in it, but I also know that I fit in on the bottom six as well.”

Plus, while Tangradi’s offseason has been enjoyable – he’s excited about the results he’s getting from training, he stood up in his older sister Heather’s wedding and has been spending time on the golf course and the ball park – it’s been too long.

“You want to play till the middle of June and that didn’t happen this year,” Tangradi said. “Just preparing for another big season. If I have a good camp and do the things that I do, I might be able to get some more minutes that I had in the past.”

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