The Flyers handed out two-year contract extensions to Zac
Rinaldo and Jay Rosehill on Wednesday, securing two of the more physical
presences on the roster for the next couple seasons. While it seems Rosehill is
merely filling the tough-guy void left from Jody Shelley’s injury and impending
departure in free agency, Rinaldo has carved out a significant role for himself
on the club’s checking line.
Start with the numbers. Despite missing 10 games this season,
Rinaldo is still ninth in the NHL with 143 hits, and that’s not even the most
impressive part. He’s only averaging 8:23 of ice time per game this season,
which means he’s landing roughly one hit for less than every two minutes he’s
For comparison’s sake, teammate Luke Schenn is fourth with
159 hits. That’s only 16 more than Rinaldo, even though Schenn has played in
all 42 games so far and averages over twice as much time on the ice at 21:40.
Obviously Schenn and Rinaldo have completely different
roles, but more to the point, there isn’t a player in the NHL right now setting
that kind of pace. And for the most part Rinaldo has managed to avoid the dumb
penalties that often are a byproduct of his line of work this season as well,
often baiting his opponents into landing the extra cheap shot that winds up
sending somebody to the box.
At 5-11, 180, Rinaldo may very well be pound-for-pound the
best hitter in the NHL. It’s been fun watching him mature this season, to
mention wreck some fools while he’s at it. It’s a smart, low-risk, low-cost
extension for a 22 year old who has performed his job well this season.