Jan 11, 2014; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Pittsburgh Penguins center Zach Sill (38) on ice against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Zach Sill Deserves Fourth-Line Center Gig for Pittsburgh

 

One of the most intriguing players the Pittsburgh Penguins have dressed this season has without a doubt been center Zach Sill.

Recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton sporadically earlier in the season, and performing between late November till he was sent down for good on Jan. 23, Sill was a major contributor for Pittsburgh on their fourth-line.

However, just days after Sill was re-assigned to WBS, he ended up having to undergo surgery on his wrist, and was given a timetable of 8-10 weeks for recovery. Due to how long Sill’s rehabilitation would take, at the time, it inevitably spelled the end of his season.

Fortunately for Sill, thetimes-tribune.com is reporting that there’s now a belief that he’ll be back in WBS for their final week of the regular-season. And if Sill does make his return, Pittsburgh shouldn’t hesitate in calling him up for the playoffs.

Injecting raw energy into that bottom-six and going toe-to-toe with opposing teams’ top-tier talents, Sill is exactly the spark plug they need to center their fourth-line. Bypass his name, and focus more on what Sill brings to the table game-in and game-out.

The guy adds toughness to a lineup that’s – I don’t want to say soft – but certainly lacking in size. And although Sill isn’t the biggest adversary, he skates with the heart of UFC fighter. He doesn’t back down from anybody, and that non-intimidatable mindset goes a long way in the postseason.

Sill’s phenomenal on the penalty-kill as well.

Spending an average ice-time of 1:54 minutes-per-game shorthanded, Sill sold his body to block shots, pressured the puck-handler promptly, and battled in the dirty areas for Pittsburgh. Heckling opposing players, and serving as an ultimate pest, Sill’s character isn’t like any other that’s currently on the Pens’ roster.

What’s more important is he’s hungry.

Here’s a player who has never been given a shot in the NHL until this season, and is more motivated than ever to remain in the bigs. Determined to fight for every inch, Sill’s grind-it-out style of play provides a much needed jolt to that fourth-line. And I am having a hard time figuring out why Pittsburgh wouldn’t want him in the lineup for the playoffs.

Now, granted, I recognize the Pens’ forward front is loaded with players. Already, somebody is going to be left out of the starting lineup. These are the total forwards that are expected to be considered for a starter’s role:

  • Craig Adams
  • Beau Bennett
  • Sidney Crosby
  • Brian Gibbons
  • Tanner Glass
  • Marcel Goc
  • Jussi Jokinen
  • Chris Kunitz
  • Evgeni Malkin
  • Jayson Megna
  • James Neal
  • Taylor Pyatt
  • Lee Stempniak
  • Brandon Sutter
  • Joe Vitale

Three of those players will be on the outside looking in. So, I understand where Sill may not be a fixture due to his time missed, but you can bet I’d at least take him over the likes of Pyatt. You can even make the case that Sill is more valuable to Pittsburgh than Gibbons, Megna, and Vitale too. Don’t get me wrong though, those three are vital in their own way.

However, Sill is a player who executes differently, and adds a whole ‘nother dimension to Pittsburgh’s Cup hopes. And even though Sill may not be the most attractive pick to slot in their lineup, he’s the right choice.

But, who am I kidding, Sill won’t be in there. And it’s a shame, given how much he contributed to the team earlier on.

Watch the Pens’ website’s mini-series called “In the Room,” and view the episode entitled “Silhouettes of a Season,” if you don’t believe me.

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