|Photo courtesy of theahl.com|
An interesting signing to say the least. Valabik adds size and grit, as well as experience. He's spent most of his career in the AHL (184 games), but has played in 80 NHL games as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. He is also a former first round pick (10th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.
Valabik was a member of the Chicago Wolves when they beat the WBS Penguins in the Calder Cup Finals in 2008 where he scored three goals in 24 playoff games, the highest goal total of his career.
What this means for the WBS Penguins blue line after the jump.
The signing of Valabik to a two-way deal gives the Penguins 7 defenseman in the AHL for 2011-12:
Simon Despres, Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait, Carl Sneep, Boris Valabik, Alex Grant and Philip Samuelsson.Valabik adds size, experience and a physical presence to a young, talented blue line. I see him slotting in on the 3rd pairing and playing the role of a Deryk Engelland type defenseman: responsible in his own zone defensively and a tough guy to protect the prospects.
I've seen Valabik play against the Pens and I can tell you he's a big, physical defenseman that isn't afraid to drop the gloves. He's fought quite a few tough guys in the NHL including current Penguins Arron Asham and Eric Godard. And then there's the classic Valabik-Bonvie tilt.
It's a little early to project what the pairings might look like in October, but if the organization stands pat in regards to defenseman I could see the pairings as follows:
Robert Bortuzzo - Brian Strait
Simon Despres - Carl Sneep
Boris Valabik - Alex Grant
7th defenseman - Philip SamuelssonNot a bad unit to start the season with, although it could use a major upgrade with one more offensively gifted defenseman.