Ryan Dzingel, one of the Carolina Hurricanes’ premier additions in the offseason, has been off to a hot start with his new team.
Before the season started, if I had said that the line of Ryan Dzingel, Erik Haula and Martin Necas would be far and away the Carolina Hurricanes best line 7 games into the season, people may have thought I was crazy. I didn’t actually say that (but people still think I’m crazy!).
But the reality is that the statement holds true; the line of Dzingel-Haula-Necas has been a driving factor that has led the Hurricanes to a 6-1-0 start.
Ryan Dzingel, a 7th round pick by Ottawa back in 2011, has had a long journey to get to where he is today. The Illinois native is one of only 10 players from Illinois active in the NHL – and he leads all of them in career scoring, with 144 points. Obviously, being a 7th round pick, expectations were low and the journey was long.
Shockingly, Dzingel almost chose a different career path than hockey, which is he obviously very talented at. In 2010, while at Wheaton Academy – a private school in West Chicago, Dzingel, who was an All-State shortstop, had to decide if he wanted to pursue baseball or hockey at the next level. The choice was a very difficult one for Ryan, but it’s safe to say that he made a good one.
After choosing hockey, Dzingel impressed in the USHL and was drafted by Ottawa, before embarking on a 3-year career at Ohio State University, where he proved he was ready to exceed the low expectations that come with being a 7th-round draft pick. It took him some time in the AHL to adjust to pro hockey after signing with Ottawa, but Ryan knew he would be ready when he got his opportunity. He did, and he was.
He said he didn’t really realize that he made it until he played his first game at the United Center in his home state of Illinois, with over 100 over his family members in attendance. “It definitely sank in that I made it when I played there.” he said. “It was pretty special.” Special. As good as a hockey player as he is, special might be a word that even better describes Ryan as a human being.
Ryan Dzingel’s dad, Rick, was an avid baseball player, and played collegiate baseball at Louisiana Tech. His dad also played at a low minor level in the St. Louis Cardinals organization. His passion was baseball.
So it was Ryan’s dad’s close friend Dan Lopatka who introduced Ryan to hockey – when he was 5 years old. So when Dzingel made it all the way to the NHL, Lopatka and his 9-year old son, Luke, were in attendance with Dzingel’s family when he made his first NHL appearance in Chicago on December 20th, 2016.
Luke had written a letter to Santa and said he wanted a Ryan Dzingel jersey for Christmas. After hearing about the letter, Ryan personally bought Luke his Senators jersey and delivered it to him. “It brought a tear to my eye.” Dzingel’s dad Rick said. When you come across stories like that one – it’s hard not to cheer for Dzingel.
Hurricanes fans, though, already have tons of reason to cheer for him. First off, he signed a very reasonable 2-year deal (3.375 AAV) with the Hurricanes after putting together a 26-goal, 56-point season split between Ottawa and Columbus. He’s since found the same stride with the Hurricanes, posting 2 goals and 4 assists in their first 7 games.
Dzingel, flanking the left side of Erik Haula’s line with Marty Necas on the right, have combined to be the Hurricanes most dangerous line throughout the first month of the 2019-20 season. They’ve been steady throughout – scoring even-strength goals in 5 of the Hurricanes’ 7 games thus far and also contributing on the powerplay. Dzingel himself has been particularly impressive.
In Los Angeles, he waited patiently behind the net while Necas found open space in front, and slid the puck into an area for Necas to one-time the game-winning goal past Kings goaltender Jack Campbell.
Aside from that stellar assist, Dzingel had a phenomenal 2-goal performance in the 6-3 win in Florida and also provided fans with this terrific gif:
He’s been well embraced by Hurricanes fans, and it figures to stay that way if he keeps impressing the way he has. They’ll need him to continue being consistent as the team looks to wrap up their West Coast trip on a high note with a win in Anaheim.
Question for CC readers: Has Ryan Dzingel impressed you thus far?