Dylan Reese is coming home.
The former Islanders defenseman, a native of Upper St. Clair, signed a one-year two-way contract with his hometown Penguins Sunday.
Today, he talked to the Post-Gazette about his latest career move.
Why did you decide to join the Penguins?
"Playing in Pittsburgh was obviously a dream come true but it’s not the reason I signed there. I looked at my options, the opportunity was there. I got a really positive vibe from the staff. For me, that was the key word. ‘Opportunity.’ It seemed like it was there and it was a good sport for me to succeed and play the full year."
The Penguins expect quite a bit out of their defensemen. Do you think you have the skill set to be successful in this team's system?
"Absolutely. In speaking with (assistant general manager) Jason (Botterill) we spoke a length about where they saw me fitting in the puzzle. I know I have to come in and make the team and I expect to do that. I think the game that I play, I think the player I’ve evolved into over the last five years really suits their system. They’re an offensive team with so much talent up front, they want puck movers and puck retrievers and guys who can get the pucks to the forwards to let them make them plays. I think my speed and my two-way game is probably my greatest asset. That’s something I’m really focused on. That was part of it. Fitting into the system and playing for coach (Dan) Bylsma, I’m hoping it’s a perfect match."
Did you have many other offers?
"Yeah on a variety of different levels. It was pretty early in free agency, we talked to Pittsburgh. From the get-go, they were the team that was the most encouraging to me early on. When it came down to it, I spoke to my agent about it. It just seemed like the right fit. I’m sure I could have waited longer. I could have waited days or months. I wasn’t worried there would be a shortage of two-way contracts. I was confident have plenty of options. It just seemed like the right fit for me. And obviously being Pittsburgh is an added bonus for me."
What is it like going to an organization which expects to win the Stanley Cup after struggling to reach the postseason for a few seasons with the Islanders?
"That was part of it. No question about it. I’ve played for three different organizations, Phoenix, Columbus and New York. They were all good organizations, but they weren’t really winning too much. It will be much different going somewhere where winning is the standard. You’re expected to win. That will make me a better player. You thrive when you win. I’m excited to get an opportunity to be in a place where you’re expected to win."
What do you think it will be like on the first day of training camp with the Penguins after growing up a Penguins fan?
"I think it’s going to be awesome. I’ve have the luxury of skating with some of the Penguins. Even when I was younger in college when Mario (Lemieux) made his comeback, I skated with him in the summer a couple of times. It’ll be completely different in a Penguins jersey. I grew up idolizing these guys. It’s just so awesome."
(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)