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Mike Sullivan Thanks Zach Aston-Reese & Dominik Simon

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Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan began his pre-game press availability by first thanking the players who were traded out of his lineup on Monday, Dominik Simon and Zach Aston-Reese.

Both have played a handful of seasons with Penguins and been versatile pieces used in multiple roles.

“I just wanted to take an opportunity to say thank you to Zach and Don for everything they did as players for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They were a pleasure to coach. These guys were great teammates and did an awful lot for the Pittsburgh Penguins…,” Sullivan began.

Aston-Reese was an undrafted college free agent from Northeastern. After a half-season with the WBS Penguins, he made his NHL debut in the 2017-18 season, during the Penguins defense of back-to-back Stanley Cups. He played in 16 games, but his rookie playoff run was cut short when Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson crushed him with an illegal hit, breaking Aston-Reese’s jaw.

You may remember Aston-Reese’s IG post for his first meal, weeks later after his jaw was unwired. He celebrated with a bowl from Chipotle. Wilson was suspended for the hit, but the Capitals won that series and eventually the Stanley Cup.

But posting an innocent meal on social media for a self-deprecating laugh became part of Aston-Reese’s charm.

Dominik Simon rose to infamy as a member of Sidney Crosby’s line and a trusted Crosby linemate. While fans lamented his lack of finishing skills, Penguins coaches and Crosby lauded his ability to create chances for linemates.

Simon played in 228 games as a Pittsburgh Penguins, beginning with three games in 2015-16. However, Simon didn’t play in any playoff games, and his name is not on either Stanley Cup ring. Simon scored 73 points (22-51-73)  in parts of six seasons with the Penguins. He played one season with the Calgary Flames, 2020-21, before returning.

Edit: PHN corrected Simon’s career totals to 73 points, not 73 assists.

Aston-Reese settled into a defensive role and became one of the most difficult forwards to score on in the NHL. Analytics gurus lauded his defensive numbers. The Staten Island native, whose father grew up in Pittsburgh as a Penguins fan, played 2013 games over five seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sullivan also laid out what he expects from newly acquired winger Rickard Rakell:

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Paul
Paul
6 months ago

Sully is a terrific head coach, but here are two of his blind spots. Simon and ZAR combined for five goals on 119 SOG in 1,202 minutes, which contributed mightily to the unbalanced load on offense. To score that little and be serviceable, a guy has to be a Selke Trophy candidate, and neither qualifies. Won’t be surprised if one or both return as free agents, though.

Last edited 6 months ago by Paul
DaGama
DaGama
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Perhaps make an attempt to even out the salary structure to better balance the offensive load. Will it sell tickets? Yes, if the team wins.

Kris
Kris
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

so everyone needs to be a 20 goal scorer or they are worthless? Man I want to see the GM who can build that team with a salary cap.

James Carr
James Carr
6 months ago
Reply to  Kris

Horrible trade. Reese became outstanding acting on defense. Simon no slouch on scoring and assists. And we throw in another player? Didn’t like Hextall when he got here. Like him even less now.👎

Paul
Paul
6 months ago
Reply to  Kris

This season Simon and ZAR have scored FOUR goals with a goalie in the net. Four is not 20. Four is not 10. Four is not even five. If they played a first-to-score-10 against a goalie tutor, would the game ever end?

Katz
Katz
6 months ago
Reply to  Paul

True that

Last edited 6 months ago by Katz
Kurt
Kurt
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul

I hope not, there is a reason Hextall traded them and in my opinion in the long run this is the move that helped increase the penguins chances of becoming a championship calibre team. No bottom line scoring has been killing this team for a few years now, also it would be nice to see better attempts from guy’s like Jason Zucker I mean I remember when they first got him and how he thought his game was going to explode and how he thought he needed a change of scenery, well Jason? I mean c’mon already dude at least… Read more »

Jeff Young
Jeff Young
6 months ago

I got a sawbuck that Simon is back with the Pens next year. “Analytics” 🙂