Upper St. Clair’s Vincent Trocheck continues to make an impact with Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle wasn’t quite sure of the proper vocabulary.
“What do you call someone from Pittsburgh? Pittsburghian?”
Pittsburgher will suffice. Or, if you want to be a blend of colloquial and mean, yinzer.
“Never heard that one before.”
Regional dialects aside, the Massachusetts-born Yandle and his teammates are aware of how vital they regard the Pittsburgher on their team: Vincent Trocheck.
The Upper St. Clair native missed Tuesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the BB&T Center because of an undisclosed injury. Trocheck was not available to the media Monday or Tuesday.
Last season, the Panthers realized how much they missed Trocheck, an All-Star in 2016-17 who missed 27 games from November until December with a broken ankle.
“Any time you sustain an injury of that caliber, it can be kind of tough to come back from,” said Panthers winger Mike Hoffman, who has played alongside Trocheck for much of the past two seasons. “He obviously took the summer pretty seriously and came back in great shape and started the season the way he’s done.”
In eight games this season, Trocheck has one goal and five assists. He scored the lone shootout goal in a 3-2 road victory against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.
Along with Hoffman, Trocheck has teamed with free-agent acquisition Brett Connolly to form a potent second line. Entering Tuesday’s game, Hoffman led the Panthers with eight points (five goals, three assists), and Connolly had seven points (four goals, three points).
“Getting Connolly in, he’s a great two-way player,” Hoffman said. “He can put the puck in the net. We’re just kind of capitalizing on the chances we’ve gotten. We’ve been playing well together. We try to be as reliable as we can in the defensive end, and that’s going translate into offense going the other way.”
As a skilled playmaker, Trocheck’s task on the line is simple. He has to get the puck to the wingers with 30- and 20-goal seasons on their resumes.
“He’s the engine of that line, engine of this team,” said Hoffman, who had a career-best 36 goals last season. “When he’s going, it seems like everyone is going. He works really hard. He’s a good two-way center, obviously very good with the puck. He’s a nice guy to play with.”
Beyond his on-ice contributions, Trocheck has a significant impact off the ice. One of the team’s alternate captains, Trocheck, 26, is in the fourth year of a six-year contract with a salary-cap hit of $4.75 million.
“Hopefully, he’s a guy that plays his entire career here,” Yandle said. “What he embodies on and off the ice as a guy and as a player, that’s what you need to build your franchise around. (Trocheck), he’s still a young guy, but he carries himself really well. He’s married. He has a kid. He’s mature.
“He’s a guy you definitely want to have in your organization.”
Of more immediate concern is getting Trocheck back in the lineup.
“When (Trocheck) is out there, I know from playing against him, he’s a guy you don’t want to play against,” Yandle said. “He gives it 100% every shift. That’s how he plays his game. That’s why he always has a black eye, a bloody nose or something. But he’s a guy that’s going 100% any time he’s on the ice.”
Seth Rorabaugh is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Seth by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .