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Arbitration avoided: Pens re-sign Nick Spaling to 2 year deal

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The Pittsburgh Penguins sign restricted free agent Nick Spaling to a two year contract just before his arbitration hearing.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

From the team:

The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with forward Nick Spaling, it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.

The deal runs through the 2015-16 campaign and has an average annual value of $2.2 million.

Spaling, 25, was acquired by the Penguins from the Nashville Predators along with Patric Hornqvist on June 28. Spaling is coming off a career year this past season, recording 13 goals, 19 assists and 32 points in 71 games.

Depending on your viewpoint this is either an over-payment for a marginal player, or the potential to add a decent, young, versatile bottom six piece at 3.18% of the salary cap.

In reality, it's probably a little of both. The Pens already picked Steve Downie and Blake Comeau out of the dumpster of unwanted free agents for a cheap, one-year deals, the prospects of adding another might be bordering on overkill. Spaling is also younger and less injury-pone than many of the veterans on the market, and he at least adds the ability to play any of the three forward positions and play somewhat competently in any situation. Also unlike many of those still available for cheap, Spaling had the best year of his career last season and his arrow is trending upwards.

That is more than you can say about the Penguins bottom six last season, so there's part of your upgrade. The Pens paid for it with a fairly modest two-year and $2.2 million deal (less term than Tanner Glass, Deryk Engelland and Joe Vitale got on the open market earlier this month) so that's favorable too.

The Pens now have about $4.2 million in cap space with only Brandon Sutter (also a restricted free agent) left to sign. Talks with Sutter are expected to intensify now that Spaling is back under contract and barring an unforseen trade, should be the last major item to take care of this summer in GM Jim Rutherford's first off-season in Pittsburgh.