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Pens acquire tough guy Zolnierczyk

| Monday, June 24, 2013, 2:45 p.m.

The Penguins became a little tougher Monday.

General manager Ray Shero dealt defenseman Alex Grant, an AHL prospect, to Anaheim for forward Harry Zolnierczyk. Best known for his aggressive antics with the Flyers during the past two seasons, Zolnierczyk has played 44 career games, mustering 71 penalty minutes. While playing on Philadelphia's fourth line, he produced three goals and seven points in those games.

“It was shocking news,” said Zolnierczyk, 25. “But to be honest, I'm really excited about this trade. I hope I'll be a great fit. I'm really looking forward to being in Pittsburgh.”

Zolnierczyk was suspended four games in March for a charging infraction against Ottawa's Mike Lundin. Philadelphia traded him to Anaheim a couple of weeks later.

“What attracts you to him is that speed and that he is physical,” Shero said. “He's never proven to be an elite finisher at any level, but he plays with a lot of speed and he's shown that he can be a bottom-six guy in the NHL.”

Zolnierczyk promised that he will offer protection for Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin when necessary.

“By no means do I consider myself an enforcer,” said Zolnierczyk. “But I am an agitator and I'm always going to stick up for my teammates.”

Zolnierczyk is a restricted free agent, but neither he nor the Penguins believes reaching a contract agreement will be a problem.

Grant was the Penguins' fourth- round selection in 2007 but hasn't played in the NHL.

“They've (the Penguins) done such a good job drafting defensemen that it's tough to earn a spot in the lineup,” Grant said.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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