Like most hockey youths in Pittsburgh during the early 1990s, Dylan Reese visualized himself wearing a Penguins sweater while his hometown team won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and ’92.
Now that dream could become a reality.
Reese, an Upper St. Clair native, signed a one-year, two-way contract with Pittsburgh that will pay him $600,000 at the NHL level.
“Playing in front of friends and family is a dream come true,” Reese said. “It’s an added bonus, but I didn’t make my decision based on the city. I made it based on opportunity.”
Reese, 27, has played in 74 career NHL games with the New York Islanders, totaling three goals, 14 assists and 17 points. He’s a two-way type of defenseman that likes to join the rush and push the puck ahead – something that would mesh well with Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma’s system.
“The type of defensemen (the Penguins) like is similar to the style that I molded myself into,” Reese said. “They have great young D and wanted to add a guy in my range.”
Reese became the fourth player from the Pittsburgh youth hockey system to play for the Penguins organization since 2003 (Ryan Malone, 2003-08; Bill Thomas, ’08-09; Nate Guenin, ’09-10).
Reese started off playing hockey in roller skates (before roller blades existed) with his friends on local tennis courts. When he was 8 years old, the Penguins won their first Stanley Cup in 1991.
“I’m a product of the Cups in the ‘90s and Mario,” Reese said. “I consider myself in the group of 6-11 year olds when the Penguins won the Cups.”
He took his play to the ice with the Pittsburgh Hornets. He moved on to play for the now-defunct Pittsburgh Forge of the North American Hockey League.
Reese took his play to the Ivy League, suiting up for Harvard for four seasons. Reese, who was selected by the New York Rangers in the seventh round (209th overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft, was a two-time All-ECAC Second-Team All-Star during his collegiate career.
Reese has played parts of six seasons in the American Hockey League with Hartford, San Antonio, Syracuse and Bridgeport. Over that time he’s seen action in the NHL, establishing career highs in 2011-12 for games played (28), assists (6) and points (7) with the Islanders.
And now he brings his game back to Pittsburgh, where it started.
“Pittsburgh was a perfect fit and I’m excited for my family and I,” Reese said. “It’s awesome to come back to this team, where I watched the Pens win two Cups.”