In his brief time in the NHL, we’ve seen how specific a role Zac Rinaldo has been taking on. It’s one that’s not really a secret to anyone in the league.
Rinaldo appeared in 66 games with the Philadelphia Flyers last season. In those games, he managed 232 penalty minutes, which was good (or bad) for second in the entire league. He had just nine points, with a game that was predicated on his physical game and his ability (and willingness) to drop the gloves.
With the lockout upon us, and Rinaldo heading back to the AHL to join the Adirondack Phantoms, he’s hoping to at least tweak is game, if not reinvent himself entirely during this time.
In Philadelphia, Rinaldo is no more than a fourth line player. He’s going to be a pest, use his body effectively, and drop the mitts probably at least once every night. But with the Phantoms, Rinaldo is hoping to not necessarily change his role, but to add some other aspects to his game.
One key thing Rinaldo noted he wants to work on in his time with the Phantoms is killing penalties. He noted that he killed them in the OHL and he has the skill set to be an effective penalty killer for the Phantoms. He’ll be seeing top six minutes in the AHL, so he’ll have time to work on his game.
Essentially, Rinaldo wants to take a step away from the enforcer role and work on becoming a real hockey player. We saw a similar player do something when Dan Carcillo signed with the Chicago Blackhawks last summer. He attempted to reinvent himself and focus on actually playing hockey, and actually did so well. He was earning top six minutes for a while before an incredibly boneheaded play cost him his season.
It will be interesting to see if Rinaldo can do it. The Flyers are in need of forwards that can actually contribute in their bottom six, and rounding out his game to include more than just his fists would be a good way for Rinaldo to work his way into the lineup on a nightly basis.