One of the Penguins’ most impressive forwards during training camp in September was Harry Zolnierczyk.
The Pens brass was impressed with his combination of speed, grit, physicality and willingness to crash the net.
“We saw in training camp a little bit of what he brings, the speed with which he plays, getting to the net, forechecking,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “He did that in training camp almost every game he played.”
With the depth the Pens have at the forward position, they were forced to send Zolnierczyk, 26, down to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. And through the first three games of the season, he’s been one of the team’s best players.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pound winger has a team-high (tied) three goals to help WBS open the season with a 3-0 record. And his hard work has earned himself a recall to Pittsburgh and a spot in the lineup tonight when the Pens battle the Edmonton Oilers.
“I just want to basically play the same way I was playing down there,” Zolnierczyk said. “It’s ultimately what gave me the opportunity up here. I know what I have to do in terms of brining energy. I’ll go out and play the same way.”
“He scored three goals, but three of them have been going to the net, creating that room and space and banging home goals there,” Bylsma said. “He’s been an effective player for them. He’s played on a top-two line with that speed and ability being a factor and getting to the offensive zone.”
Zolnierczyk will skate on the Pens’ third line, alongside Brandon Sutter and Dustin Jeffrey.
“He’ll add speed to that forward line and a physical presence,” Bylsma said. “Also a guy that can bring it to the net and score a goal or get his linemates opportunities. That’s what we expect him to bring and why he’s playing on that line.”
Zolnierczyk will get an opportunity to show what he can do for the Pens. This is his encore performance from training camp.
“My focus (in camp) was to make the team. I fell a little short,” Zolnierczyk said. “I thought I had a good camp, a good showing and I just wanted to go down, keep working hard and put myself in this position to get that call up.”