By Brian Metzer
To make the Daniel Winnik deal work, general manager Jim Rutherford had to get Toronto to keep some salary. He also needed to include a body off of his roster. That player ended up being Zach Sill.
Sill appeared on TSN 1050 in Toronto earlier today and shared his thoughts on the trade and the emotions that came with it.
“Jim Rutherford called my hotel room and called me up to his suite,” Sill said when asked how he found out about the deal. “So I went up and seen him. When you get that call you kind of know what it is right away.”
The Gritty forward signed with the Penguins in May 2011 and has been with the organization ever since. He spent most of that time skating with the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, but managed to carve out a niche in Pittsburgh this season.
That fact had Sill feeling a bit taken off-guard by the trade on Wednesday.
“It was kind of surreal,” Sill said. “I’ve been in Pittsburgh my whole career and I didn’t really see it coming. So it kind of took me by surprise.”
Everything was still pretty fresh when he was interviewed on the show, so he was still gathering his thoughts and emotions, but he seems to be excited for the situation.
He is moving from a situation where he had to bite, claw and scratch for every minute of ice time, to a team that is looking for pieces to become the future of the franchise. There are no guarantees moving into next season, but he seems to think he’ll get an opportunity to play.
“I haven’t really had time to think about that, but I do know that there’s going to be an opportunity to play in Toronto and I’m excited about that,” Sill said. “I’ve been in and out of the lineup here in Pittsburgh the last couple weeks. All the more opportunity that’s given to me is good right now.”
It is always hard moving on to a new team, but he’ll have at least one familiar face in the locker room in former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton teammate Trevor Smith.
Sill was pretty popular with his teammates and that was never more obvious than when he picked up his first career point, an assist, back on Jan. 13 against the Minnesota Wild. His mates reacted as if he had scored a game-winning-goal and that comes from how he handled his business on the ice.
He is a physical player, a great penalty killer and was always willing to defend teammates when he had too. Toronto fans might not be all that familiar with him, so he was asked to describe his game.
“I can tell you that I’m going to give my heart every night,” Sill said. “I’m kind of a penalty killer guy, hard on the forecheck. There’s no give up in my game that’s for sure. You might not see too many points out of me, but I can try to chip in now and again.”
Sill is expected to be in Toronto for the morning skate Thursday morning and it will be a bit emotional pulling on a Maple Leafs’ sweater. He is from Nova Scotia, but grew up a Leafs fan.
“A lot of my friends and family have given me calls and texts. Being a Nova Scotia boy there’s a lot of Toronto fans out our way. Growing up Toronto was my favorite team watching Wendell Clark and Dougie Gilmour and those guys play.
“There’s a lot of heritage there and it’s exciting for me.”