Steve Pinizzotto Signs One-Year, Two-Way Contract With Oilers

I get it, I get it (said in my best Kid President voice) the Edmonton Oilers, and National Hockey League teams for that matter, “need” players like Steve Pinizzotto. Tough as nails, tip-toeing on the edge, and constantly challenging opponents – players of this bend live throughout the minors and survive in the majors. Pinizzotto, most recently logging minutes with the San Antonio Rampage, the Oklahoma City Barons, and the Edmonton Oilers has signed a one-year contract of the two-way variety, and this is an odd signing.

In a rare moment of inward deep thinking, the Edmonton Oilers looked at the Oklahoma City Barons in 2013-2014, and realized the team immediately needed some things.

First they needed more skill so they prepared themselves to receive Jack Combs. Combs, playing very few minutes with the struggling San Antonio Rampage, was a skillfull fella with great hands, good vision, but unable to stick to the puck like glue. He ended up being fun to watch, but not complete enough to warrant further consideration.

Secondly the team need toughness. In a prospect world, even where Kale Kessy and Travis Ewanyk reside, there is a tendency to reveal a timid heart. Thus the Barons received Steve Pinizzotto with open arms, again from the San Antonio Rampage. In return the Barons sent away Derek Nesbitt and Ryan Martindale.

The skinny on Pinizzotto is that “you get what you get”. You know the type of minutes he’s going to give you. For the Edmonton Oilers they seem prepared to pay the man, get rough and tumble, and backstop their minor league squad with more tenacity.

I’ve written at length about the risk involved with Steve Pinizzotto (here, here, here), and it is a real puzzler as to why the Oilers might consider him even for another season. Let me explain.

Offensively he is a risk taker in the minors. Unafraid to close on the net. Capable of really good stick work, and goal-mouth play. He’s quick, poignant, and the rare minor league player willing to bowl over an opponent. He is helpful in the PK department, strong on the puck, and admirable on the right side of the PP (in small small doses). That sounds great, but that’s only 50% of his outlook.

The remaining 50% is about grit and attitude. As good as he occasionally is he has a tendency to cost his team just as much. 116 penalty minutes in just 30 regular season games, including suspensions, and an armload of game misconducts, he’s probably a bit of a coaches nightmare. The thing is this, he’s a talker, a yapper if you will, and his shenanigans are well known around the AHL. Is he marked by officials? Yes, and rightfully so. I’ve seen enough of his game to be frustrated by the potential, and bothered by the unnecessary penalties.

I’ll assume that new assistant GM with the Oilers, and former Oklahoma City Barons GM Bill Scott, had something to do with this decision as he has seen Pinizzotto play a ton of minutes with his own eyeballs. This makes the decision to sign him even more baffling.

Nonetheless, Steve P will probably be featured in the Oilers call-up rotation as needed, and you will recall that he fared pretty well in six games with Edmonton towards the end of their season. He survived in limit minutes, and certainly didn’t look worse than Luke Gazdic. And at 30 years old, a signing like this makes you wonder why you just didn’t keep Ben Eager around (egads, and maybe they will, egads again) for the same role?

Any way you slice it, this is a tough sell in my eyes. Yes, Pinizzotto has skill and grit, but we don’t see it consistently enough between the agitating moments of goofiness. Fingers crossed that Steve can reel in a successful season, and in the end the guy has a good contract.