D'Agostini trying to replace friend Kennedy - 09-18-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .


Stop us if this sounds familiar.

The Penguins have a player vying to be the right wing on their third line who is from Sault St. Marie. His best season as an NHLer saw him score 21 goals in 2010-11. During that season, injuries to other players allowed him to see more scoring chances. And he had success that season while playing for a bespectacled head coach who worked his way up from the AHL. After two down seasons, this player is looking for a fresh start.

We're not talking about Tyler Kennedy. The Penguins traded him over the summer.

We're talking about his friend, Matt D'Agostini.

All of a week into training camp, D'Agostini has been working primarily on a third line in Kennedy's old position with Brandon Sutter as the center and Jussi Jokinen as the left winger.

Like Kennedy, D'Agostini, 26, is a quick skater and isn't afraid to use his shot. In 2010-11, injuries to teammates allowed him to set career-bests in games (82), goals and points (46) under head coach Davis Payne, a friend of Dan Bylsma. Since then, D'Agostini has been plagued by a concussion, inconsistency and a change of address. In the last two seasons, 'D'Agostini has been limited to 84 games, 12 goals and 24 points while playing for the Blues and Devils.

He's hoping to re-discover his previous success while replacing his childhood friend. Recently, he talked about joining the Penguins.

Are you a fit for the third line?

"I think so. I think for a third line, the biggest thing to get puck out of your own [zone], play sound positionally and defensively and you get your offensive chances from there. As long as we keep the puck out of our end and play offense, we’ll be good."

What appealed to you in joining the Penguins?

"When the Pittsburgh opportunity came up, it was something that grabbed really my attention and something that I want to be a part of. It’s obviously a winning team where with a good reputation of going to the playoffs and being successful."

You're friends with Tyler Kennedy?

"I grew up with ‘TK.’ We skate every day in the summers and work out. We kind of laughed about it because as soon as he left – he’s been here for a while – I came in. Hopefully, if I can do his job in his role that he played here, that would be great for me. He gave me the ins and outs of the city and the organization and had nothing but good things to say. That kind of gave me a good start here."

Your best season as an NHLer came under Davis Payne in St. Louis. Are there any similarities to him and Dan Bylsma?

"I think so. I think for the most part, Davis and Dan … it’s a defense first mentality. Play good defense and keep the puck out of our own end, you’ll get your chances from there. I learned a lot from Davis and I think him and Dan are similar with how they go about things. They only want the best from you and they try to get the best out of any player."

You played a lot with the Blues' David Backes as your center that season. Any similarities to Brandon Sutter?

"I think they’re very similar. Very straight forward type of hockey players that play a simple style. A hard, gritty style of checking game and have the ability, the offensive upside, to score when they get a chance. Dave is one of the best captains I’ve ever played under. His work ethic and leadership on and off the ice was something I could really look up to. His type of play resembles [Sutter] pretty good. [Sutter] could definitely be a leader of the team."

(Photo: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)


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