Even Zac Rinaldo is surprised the Flyers re-signed Zac Rinaldo now

Even Zac Rinaldo is surprised the Flyers re-signed Zac Rinaldo now

Zac Rinaldo was entering the final year of his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers and could have become a restricted free agent next summer. Perhaps sensing the confetti shower of offer sheets that would float down on him if he reached RFA status, the Flyers proactively signed Rinaldo to a 2-year extension on Tuesday.

From the Flyers:

Rinaldo, 24 (6/15/1990) will be entering his fourth NHL season in 2014-15.  He appeared in 67 games for the Flyers last season, recording two goals and two assists along with 153 penalty minutes. He ranked second on the Flyers with 231 hits while playing an average of 7:41 per game, giving him an average of 2.23 hits per minute of ice time.

For some reason the Flyers decided to downplay the fact that his 153 PIMs were fifth in the League last season. I bet if Corey Perry signed a new contract, the Ducks would mention he was fifth in points, for example.

Also, this might be the first contract signing release to use the coveted “hits per minute” stat outside of anything Clutterbuckian.

Rinaldo, meanwhile, seemed genuinely baffled as to why the Flyers tendered him a contract roughly nine months before it was necessary.

“I’m surprised that we’d even started to talk about it so early, but I am thrilled,” Rinaldo said. “Philadelphia is where I started my NHL career and this is where I want to be so I am really happy.  This definitely gives me a lot of confidence by the Flyers showing that they have confidence in me.  I know they want to see me get better as a player, and this is the place to do it.”

Kidding aside, that last point is the salient one: Can Rinaldo, who has as many games suspended (4) as points scored (4) last season, become something more than a 7-minute per night fourth liner?

He saw 31 minutes of shorthanded time last season; is that an option? Is there untapped offense? Is he more than just “let’s wait until Zac Rinaldo does something stupid again?” Ron Hextall believes so, apparently.