On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenseman, Reid McNeill. The deal is a three-year, entry-level contract and will begin next season (2012-13) and last through 2014-15.
McNeil was the Penguins sixth round draft pick in 2010 (170th overall). He is among Beau Bennett (first round), Bryan Rust (2), Tom Kuhnhackl (3), Kenny Agostino (4), and Joe Ragalski (5) in Pittsburgh’s 2010 draft class and has also played alongside Pittsburgh’s 2011 second round draft pick (and fellow defenseman), Scott Harrington, for the London Knights during the 2010-11 season.
Prior to his professional hockey career, McNeill played junior hockey (Junior D, B) for the Lambeth Lancers (2008-09), London Nationals (2009-10), London Knights (2009-10, 2010-11), and Barrie Colts (2011-12).
He is a gritty defenseman who doesn’t shy away from dropping the gloves as illustrated by the number of fights on his card (three in 2010-11; five in 2011-12). Although he’s defensive-minded, he is capable of helping out offensively when needed which may prove handy in the type of system Dan Bylsma utilizes.
McNeill has taken part in the last two Penguins’ rookie development camps held in July and rookie tournaments in September, so it would appear that he has impressed the organization especially with a three year deal. And as unsuccessful as the defensive corps has been for the Penguins after being eliminated in the first round of this year’s playoffs, the team will be needing all the help it can get as far as defense goes and could especially use some of the toughness that McNeill would bring. This will allow them to increase the depth that they’re known for.
Stephanie Lewark is a featured Pittsburgh Penguins columnist for RantSports.com. If you enjoy her articles / posts, you can follow her on Twitter (@steelcitysports), check out her personal Facebook page (via Networked Blogs), visit her personal Tumblr page, or stop by her Pinterest page.