D'Agostini Hoping For A Pittsburgh Resurgence
With all the changes that have taken place in the National Hockey League since the free agency period began almost a week ago, 26 year old forward Matt D’Agostini signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins for a mere $550,000, one year contract might be the one that garners the least amount of attention in the hockey world.
But it’s one that Ray Shero hopes to be an absolute steal when it’s all said and done.
With a mere 267 games played in the National Hockey League, D’Agostini has seen his career take a serious tumble.
There was a large amount of hype surrounding D’Agostini after a 21 goal season, 46 point season 2010-11. A 55 game campaign that produced just nine goals and was filled with injuries stole much of that momentum. A poor training camp and a quick entry into Blues’ coach Ken Hitchcock’s doghouse squashed whatever was left of that 21 goal season. D’Agostini was traded to the New Jersey Devils last year when a wrist injury sidelined him again for the majority of the season.
Now, D’Agostini gets a fresh start for a team that is stocked with talent and in desperate need of an infusion of young depth into it’s bottom six forwards.
I’m not sure that this signing screams “reclamation project” to me, but D’Agostini has a lot to prove. With the bloom off his rose, his consistency, conditioning, and attention to detail has to improve.
He’s essentially playing for a contract next year.
Having a center like Brandon Sutter alongside him could potentially benefit his defensive game. Having a young star like Beau Bennett on the wing opposite him might produce some goals.
In a way, the Penguins found a way to replace a $2.1 million dollar project in Tyler Kennedy with a similar project that is coming at a league minimum price.
There are some comparables between the two players. Kennedy and D’Agostini are both fleet footed skaters with inconsistent games and a penchant for shooting the puck. When they’re on, you love them. When they aren’t, you don’t notice they’re playing.
Oh, did I mention they’re both from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario?
Players of this nature can be frustrating, and D’Agostini might have the better offensive assets, but his physicality grossly needs to improve, especially playing for Dan Bylsma.
In my view, the Penguins are maximizing a low cost investment here.
The Penguins play the Bylsma “get north” style that D’Agostini covets. While he was exposed at certain times in the tough, defensive style of play in St. Louis, Pittsburgh’s philosophy is right up his alley.
And in the case of a 26 year old forward still finding his way, the hope is that you see the offensive chances that improve D’Agostini’s odds of repeating another 20-40 performance for the Penguins.
For Ray Shero, the price was right. For the Penguins, hopefully a young forward that can play all three forward positions can re-find his game and earn himself a new contract, wherever that may be.