March 18, 2013; Tampa FL, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Zac Rinaldo (36) against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Tampa Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Zac Rinaldo Extension: Philadelphia Flyers Rink Rats

Zac Rinaldo and the Flyers agreed to a two-year contract extension Tuesday afternoon worth $1.7 million.

Rinaldo is one of the most polarizing players on the Flyers roster. His supporters believe he is an energy forward capable of changing a game with one hit. His detractors point out his lack of discipline and lack of production. Most of them say he is nothing but a goon whose roster spot should be used by someone with more skill.

Rinaldo regressed just one season after making great strides in his game and his discipline. He seemed to have channeled his aggression during the lockout season and drew more penalties than he took. Last season, he reverted back to his old ways. His penalties taken per 60 minutes jumped from 2.3 to 3.0, and his penalties drawn per 60 dropped from 3.2 to 1.7.

These significant changes may have two causes behind them. What happens more times than not is that Rinaldo’s strength and reputation precede him. He lays into players with such great strength, he often gets called for charging because the player goes flying into the air. He is often on a short leash with the officials and more times than not, he will get sent to the penalty box on a borderline call.

General manager Ron Hextall and his staff have given Rinaldo a huge vote of confidence with this deal. They must believe Rinaldo is an asset to the team and believe he can become a useful energy player as well as a better offensive player. The 24-year-old is not a lost cause yet. He has displayed a strong work ethic to better himself and he even spent a small amount of time on the team’s penalty kill last season.

Rinaldo has also worked to build a rapport with the officials. Since his rookie year, he has made an effort to speak with the refs about calls made on the ice so he understands why he was called for an infraction.

Zac Rinaldo may not be the ideal fourth-liner for some fans, but there is no doubt the team does feed off of the energy he provides game-in and game-out.

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