Dylan Reese is the lesser known but more interesting of the New York Islanders' four-pack of pending unrestricted free agent defensemen.
Acquired in a quiet minor league trade two springs ago, he's quietly played more NHL games each season and, at age 27, quietly become rather useful. Still vulnerable to the same mistakes any bottom-pair defenseman will suffer now and again, he nonetheless proved capable this season in pairings ranging from Mark Streit to Mike Mottau. I'd suggest he's adapting to NHL realities.
His most memorable moment may have been when he dropped the gloves with Claude Giroux after repeated clashes with the Flyers star, taking Giroux off the ice for five minutes in the Islanders' monkey-off-the-back win. But after a couple of seasons adapting his game in his late 20s, Reese might very well be have been the guy this team should have used more often instead of his fellow pending UFAs.
How many expected that?
|GP||G||A||P||+/-||PIM||TOI||PKtoi||PPtoi||O-Zone St ||SOG||PCT|
|2011-12 - Dylan Reese||28||1||6||7||E||11||17:05||0:43||0:06||48.6%||26||3.8|
How many realized he actually played more NHL games this season (okay, one more) than in 2010-11? And how many realized he actually logged more NHL games (okay, one more) than the 27 he played with AHL Bridgeport this season (2 goals, 13 assists, also even +/-)?
We are of course limited by his small third-of-a-season sample size, but in his 28 games the puck moved in the right direction -- and he wasn't just loading up on offensive zone starts with Streit, either.
Because Reese was an AHL acquisition -- remember Greg Moore -- who had some memorable gaffes in his first season-plus with the Islanders, it's tempting to write him off. But in the discussion of whether any blueline UFAs would be brought back among Steve Staios, Mark Eaton or Milan Jurcina, I'd cast a firm vote -- as firm as votes for depth D can be -- in Reese's camp.
Handedness isn't everything, but the fact he's a righty makes him a more useful part. The fact he appears able to hold his own makes him the kind of still-cheap depth I'd keep around, if I were keeping around any of the depth still technically on the team through July 1.
There is a certain danger, of course, in coveting thy press box's goods. When Eaton is coughing pucks up, Staios is ringing them around the boards, or Jurcina is on walkabout in the corner, it's easy to scream, "For Avery's sake!
Gervais Hillen Reese could do better than that!" The coaches and GM have their reasons, and sometimes they might have reasons we aren't privy too.
But at least with the others we've been there, done that. Reese is probably at the most useful point in his career. For depth, the Islanders could, and sometimes have, done worse.
Did you ever know that you're my Dylan?
With Streit or Mottau, you still do fine
I don't want to pay you a million
But for minimum wage, you'll still be mine
And though not as speedy as Jack Hillen
You still hold your own and walk the line
Don't make of this more than we are willing
But you're not the worst they could re-sign
As explained in previous report cards, we ask you to grade each player on an "expectations" curve -- that is, try to remember your preseason expectations of a player and then judge him on how well he lived up to them. The point of the curve is to avoid grading players based purely on talent/role, and to get us reflecting on what we reasonably expected of a player.
Granted, you may have not seen him in the picture at all, and normally a player of 28 games like Reese would be an "incomplete." But I am curious as to where you saw him before the season and whether you think he does, or should, have any future with the club.