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Brace Yourself: Jarred Tinordi–Pens New Project

The Pittsburgh Penguins are a land of misfit toys. Ian Cole, Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin, Justin Schultz, and even Trevor Daley — now with the Detroit Red Wings — were either struggling in their previous situation or simply cast off, scratched often and deemed a bust in the eyes of former employers. The Penguins knew what they could offer in the right scenario and they capitalized. The end result was back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships and a roster poised to make another run with a few added pieces.

The next man up in that long list of reclamation projects may have arrived when the Penguins signed a group of low-key unrestricted free agents on July 1 — the opening of the NHL’s free agency period.

Jarred Tinordi was signed along with Greg McKegg, Chris Summers, and Zach Trotman. All four are considered depth acquisitions that will likely spend the season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton playing with the Penguins’ AHL affiliate but Tinordi, a former first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, has a shot at reinventing himself. The Penguins, an organization that fosters such a thing so often, would be happy to help. It certainly isn’t a home run but considering Tinordi’s pedigree and attributes, he could be a great fit to fill a role similar to Cole in Pittsburgh’s bottom pairing in the future. Or in Pittsburgh’s case — if history is any indication of how the 2017-18 season will play out — injuries will pave way for him to appear with the big club at some point.

Who Is Jarred Tinordi?

In the seven years since Tinordi was drafted with the 22nd overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he’s only participated in 53 NHL contests. So, there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of him or if you did, it wasn’t in a positive light. Tinordi was highly regarded as a young prospect and seemed a lock to make an impact at the NHL level. Unfortunately, due to both underperformance on his part and a flawed development plan on the part of the Montreal Canadiens, things went south quickly.

But the hulking defenseman (6’5″, 230 lbs) deserves one last shot at redemption after a troublesome start to his pro career.

In January 2016, Jonathan Willis outlined Tinordi’s tumultuous tenure with the Canadiens just after he was shipped to Arizona in exchange for two veterans that had both recently cleared waivers and could have been claimed without forfeiting assets. His time in Montreal was full of recalls that rarely exposed him to beneficial NHL minutes and time spent between the big leagues and the AHL, with no real consistency. They displayed no patience with the young defender and ultimately, stunted his development by never providing a solid foundation for him to grow as a professional. The end result is obviously disappointing, but there’s some hope, still.

According to McKeensHockey.com‘s draft guide in 2010…

Tinordi completes the package with a mean
streak and strong mobility. He is smooth moving backwards while not
sacrificing speed.

They continued and discussed that — while Tinordi isn’t a blueliner that will rush the puck frequently — he has the ability to make quick first passes with scary accuracy. Having not seen much of Tinordi in recent seasons due to his burial in the depths of the AHL and Arizona, it remains to be seen if he can build upon his raw talents to fit within the Penguins’ organization but a defenseman with that kind of size, and skill to match, would be a great addition going forward.

Limited NHL Results

Since 2012, Tinordi’s most common defensive partners have been Mike Weaver and Francis Bouillon, according to Stats.HockeyAnalysis.Com. He posted positive possession numbers with both but saw the most success alongside Bouillon, boasting a 55.9-percent shot attempt differential in just under 130-minutes of ice time. He ended his Montreal career with 46 games played, averaging just over 13-minutes and six total points (all assists).

Throughout that span, Tinordi ranks fourth among Montreal defenders in shots against per hour and third in Corsi-for percentage. Fifteen defenders show up on this report, furthering that while his sample size is quite small for that many seasons, there’s some potential here. His underlying numbers have been good when he’s had the opportunity to play at this level. Interestingly, though, one glaring stat that stands out is that Montreal’s even strength save percentage — roughly 90-percent  — was at its lowest mark while Tinordi was on the ice. Is that a reflection of his defensive play? Maybe, maybe not.

See Also: Rick Tocchet Hunting Coyotes’ Head Coaching Job

One thing is certain in the Penguins’ organization: If you earn a shot at the NHL, you’ll get it. Pittsburgh’s current regime enjoys promoting youth and infusing it into their lineup, as evidenced by individuals like Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, and Jake Guentzel among others. Look no further than their two-time Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray, who stepped in for an injured Marc-Andre Fleury as a 22-year old and never looked back. Tinordi — as well as the other youngsters Pittsburgh recently signed to two-way contracts will have their shot and like those who grace their NHL lineup today, they’ll have a real chance to claim a spot in the big leagues.

Tinordi is far from a sure thing, but the Penguins just may have the developmental system in place to carry him to the next level.

Kimmy Granger at Blush
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  1. Pingback: Rick Tocchet Finalizing Deal for Coyotes Head Coach

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