Harry Zolnierczyk is one of my favorite 2016-2017 Predators. It’s not because of his flashy goals or shot. It’s about his grit, insane speed…and ok, his last name. His last name is nearly as ridiculous as my last name. So, I took the time to learn to spell it.
Zolnierczyk was an off-season pickup by the Predators. He had previously played for Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, and the Islanders, mostly playing for the AHL clubs with occasional call-ups to the NHL club.
We didn’t see much of Harry Z this regular season. We saw him put up four points (two goals, two assists) in 24 games with the Predators this season, mostly grinding away on the fourth line. He was able to get under the skin of most of his opponents simply by his “hit first, ask questions later” style. Anything that stood still too long was hit by Harry Z.
Zolnierczyk is the guy you can (mostly) count on to handle some fourth-line minutes most nights. Other nights, he was tucked away in the press box in favor of guys like Colton Sissons, Cody McLeod, and Miikka Salomaki (a few times). Unlike McLeod, Harry Z generally has a good awareness of where the puck is and is pretty solid on *quickly* getting the puck out of the Nashville zone. The super-critical “yell at the Preds when they make a small mistake” novice hockey-expert guy who sits behind me at Bridgestone doesn’t have much to say about Harry Z, so I’ll take that as a good thing.
His regular-season stats are not much to look at. He didn’t take too many penalties, but still finds a way to irritate as he zooms around the ice.
Harry Z was placed in the lineup before Game 1 in Chicago simply because Coach Laviolette wanted to outskate Chicago (note: successful). He could be counted on to move the puck out of Nashville’s zone and into Chicago’s, skating around guys on the dump-in and generating chances.
The thing I like most about Harry Z is his intensity and fire. The guy wants to do work on the ice. Plus, his celly is one of my favorites (see below Best Moment)
Zolnierczyk’s run with the Preds farm team, the Admirals, was a little more notable. This summary by Dan Lavender of “Admirals Roundtable” explains that although Harry Z played less than 25 games for the Ads, he was a “spark plug” and a grinder. Who knows if the Preds will offer him a two-way contract, but he fits in with Coach Lavy’s speedy system, and can actually move the puck and generate chances, unlike many fourth-line grinders. Although he may not be a guy you put on the ice every night, he is clearly a guy you can count on in the event of injury.
I literally fell off my couch when Harry Z scored this goal on sad Crawford in Round One.
I'm not sure of any particular worst moment. His NHL career was far less notable than his AHL career. I suppose his worst moments would be the games he sat in the press box.
Trending Up or Down?
I'd have to say that Harry Z is plateauing. There's currently no news on whether he's joining the Preds for the 2017-2018 season... so now we wait. Honestly, I'll be disappointed if he finds a spot on another team's roster.
Final Grade: C
Zolnierczyk provided speed to a slow, grinding fourth line. I'm honestly not sure we saw enough of him to really know how capable he is. He can always provide a reliable hit or two. He isn't skilled enough to be on a higher line, although he certainly has the necessary speed.
How would you grade Harry Zolnierczyk's season?
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A+ for an awesome last name