Making a Splash
The NHL free agency period began on Sunday, July 1 and while the biggest names on the market remained unsigned, Pittsburgh dove in on the first day, signing six new players. It was the biggest haul in the first 24 hours of any team and significantly added to the depth of both the NHL and AHL clubs. Here is a look at the newest players to join the Penguins organization…
Pittsburgh added some grit and toughness to the lineup with the signing of Glass. Playing his collegiate hockey for Dartmouth College, Glass carved out a niche for himself as a shutdown third or fourth-line forward that brings energy every time he’s on the ice.
Hailing from the same hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan as Warren Peters, Glass has played in 262 NHL games with Florida, Vancouver and Winnipeg, tallying 13 goals, 26 assists and 206 penalty minutes. He was originally ninth-round selection of the Panthers in 2003 and has also played in 91 AHL contests with Rochester.
A former second-round pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006, Holzapfel split time in the AHL last season between Syracuse and St. John’s after being traded to Winnipeg by Anaheim. With the Crunch, Holzapfel was almost a point a game player, compiling eight goals and 14 assists in 28 games.
The Regina, Saskatchewan native began his professional career with the Chicago Wolves and recorded 82 points (32g-50a) in 201 games. Holzapfel also played four seasons of junior hockey with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League. He led the Warriors in scoring during the 2006-07 with 82 points (39g-42a) in 72 contests.
Peters is a ten-year veteran that has literally worked his way up the ranks of professional hockey. Undrafted after playing five years of hockey with his hometown junior team Saskatoon Blades, Peters started out with the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL. He quickly found a role in the American Hockey League however, skating with the Utah Grizzlies for 55 games.
Peters spent the 2004-05 lockout season with the Steelheads, but would find a permanent home in the AHL as he played for four seasons with the Calgary Flames affiliates Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights and Quad City Flames. It was in 2008-09 that he made his NHL debut with Calgary and appeared in 16 games overall with the Flames.
Peters spent the last two seasons with Minnesota; notching six points (2g-4a) in 69 games for the Wild, while also totaling 22 goals and 21 assists in 82 matches for the Houston Aeros.
Reese joins the Penguins after two-plus seasons in the New York Islanders organization, where he split time between the NHL and the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. After a trade brought the defenseman from the Columbus Blue Jackets/Syracuse Crunch to New York on March 1, 2010, Reese appeared in 74 games with the Islanders while posting 17 points (3g-14a). The 27-year old also recorded seven goals, 28 assists and 42 penalty minutes in 65 games with the Sound Tigers from 2010-2012.
A four-year letterman at Harvard University, Reese was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 7th round (209th overall) in 2003. Though he skated in 10 games and two postseason matches for the Rangers’ affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack, following his senior year with the Crimson, Reese went on to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes in the summer of 2007. He played for two seasons with their affiliate the San Antonio Rampage and enjoyed his best year offensively in 2008-009 as he posted 28 points (1g-27a) in 75 games.
Reese originally hails from the Pittsburgh area and was teammates with former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins Ryan Lannon at both Harvard and San Antonio.
Smith comes to Pittsburgh fresh off of his Calder Cup Championship with the Norfolk Admirals. The left-winger has scored at least 20 goals in the AHL in all five seasons as a pro and ranked sixth in the entire league with 69 points (26g-43a) in 64 games.
Smith led the University of New Hampshire in points (43) his sophomore year and turned pro after the season, signing on with New York Islanders as a free agent. He would spend the next three seasons with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, totaling 149 points (72g-77a) and 161 penalty minutes over 214 games.
Smith made his NHL debut with the Islanders on New Year’s Eve of 2008 and has since appeared in 23 NHL games, including 16 last season for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Zatkoff joins Brad Thiessen to provide the Penguins with a pair of AHL All-Stars between the pipes. Zatkoff’s 21-17-1 record with the Manchester Monarchs last season belies a stellar season that saw him register a 2.49 goals against average, .920 save percentage and earn AHL Goaltender of the Month for December of 2011.
Having totaled a 14-5-1 record during his freshman season at Miami University of Ohio, Zatkoff was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round (74th) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He continued his stellar collegiate career with Red Hawks that culminated with going 27-8-1 his junior year with a 1.72 goals against average that ranked second in the entire nation.
Zatkoff’s first year as a pro came with the ECHL’s Ontario Reign, but also made three appearances with the Monarchs that season. He went on to record a 52-45-6 record with a 2.64 GAA and a .915 save percentage in 114 games.