Defenseman Dylan Reese thinks his game will suit Penguins style fine
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Like countless Pittsburghers of his generation, Dylan Reese had to find work out of town after college.
Sunday, the Upper St. Clair native got to buck that trend, signing a one-year contract with the Penguins.
A defenseman who spent the past three seasons in the New York Islanders organization, Reese, 27, appeared in 28 NHL games last season and scored seven points (one goal, six assists). His new contract is a two-way deal, meaning he will be paid less if sent to the minors.
Returning to Pittsburgh, however, was not Reese's primary motivation for joining the Penguins.
"Playing in Pittsburgh was obviously a dream come true, but it's not the reason I signed there," he said. "I looked at my options, the opportunity was there. I got a really positive vibe from the staff. For me, that was the key word. 'Opportunity.' It seemed like it was there and it was a good spot for me to succeed and play the full year."
Despite a logjam on the Penguins' blue line, Reese sees himself fitting in with the Penguins system, which can be challenging for defensemen.
"In speaking with [assistant general manager] Jason [Botterill], we spoke at length about where they saw me fitting in the puzzle. I know I have to come in and make the team and I expect to do that.
"I think the game that I play, I think the player I've evolved into over the last five years, really suits their system. They're an offensive team with so much talent up front, they want puck-movers and puck-retrievers and guys who can get the pucks to the forwards to let them make plays. I think my speed and my two-way game is probably my greatest asset."
The New York Rangers selected Reese in the seventh round of the 2003 draft but he never signed with them. After spending four seasons at Harvard, Reese bounced between the Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Islanders organizations. He is looking forward to joining a Stanley Cup contender after failing to reach the postseason with the Islanders.
"That was part of it. No question about it," he said. "I've played for three different organizations. They were all good organizations, but they weren't really winning too much.
"It will be much different going somewhere where winning is the standard. You're expected to win. That will make me a better player. You thrive when you win. I'm excited to get an opportunity to be in a place where you're expected to win."
Three Pittsburgh-area players -- forwards Ryan Malone and Bill Thomas and defenseman Nate Guenin -- have played for the Penguins. A former member of the now defunct Pittsburgh Forge of the NAHL, Reese is eager to become the fourth
"I think it's going to be awesome," he said. "I've had the luxury of skating with some of the Penguins. Even when I was younger in college when Mario [Lemieux] made his comeback, I skated with him in the summer a couple of times.
"It'll be completely different in a Penguins jersey. I grew up idolizing these guys. It's just so awesome."
First Published July 4, 2012 12:00 am