Eventually someone was going to be the odd man out on the Pittsburgh Penguins blue line.
That man turned out to be Ben Lovejoy.
Late Wednesday night, Penguins general manager Ray Shero pulled the trigger on a deal that shipped Lovejoy to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2014.
To take Lovejoy’s place on the roster, the Penguins called up Upper St. Clair native Dylan Reese.
Given the emergence of youngster Simon Despres and now the solid play of Robert Bortuzzo, it was only a matter of time before Lovejoy was squeezed out of the mix altogether. Lovejoy made his debut in a Penguins’ uniform during the 2008-09 season and played a total of 98 games over the course of five seasons. He has four goals and 21 assists in NHL action.
Reese will be a welcome addition to the Pens blue line.
He is a smart two-way defender with speed. He’s a perfect fit for the way the Penguins want their defensemen to play. He seems to know when to join a rush to create an odd-man break, and can use his speed to get back into defensive position if the puck goes the other way.
Reese is only 6-foo-1 and 201 pounds, but what he doesn’t have in size, he makes up with intelligence, speed and solid stick work.
We will see exactly how Reese’s skills translates to Dan Bylsma’s system, but even though he is a nice story, there may not be a whole lot of minutes to be handed out right now.
Reese was drafted by the New York Rangers in 2003 and is no stranger to the NHL game, having played 74 NHL games with the New York Islanders over a three-year period, where he scored three goals and had 14 assists.
Reese also played under former Penguins coach Kevin Constantine for the short-lived Pittsburgh Forge junior franchise that was based on Neville Island from 2001-03. After winning a NAHL title with the Forge in 2003, Reese attended Harvard, giving him something in common with current Penguins forward Craig Adams.