The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forwards Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson and Tom Kuhnhackl to two-year contract extensions, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
All three deals begin with the 2016-17 season and run through the 2017-18 campaign. The Rust contract has an average annual value of $640,000, while both Wilson and Kuhnhackl have average annual values of $625,000.
The three rookies have been integral components of the Penguins’ second-half turnaround, providing speed, energy and a blue-collar approach as secondary contributors.
This is good news all around, the team gets the players on almost minimum wage NHL salaries, and the players get the stability of having 2 year contracts and would have arbitration rights for their next contracts.
This also helps the Penguins salary cap for next year too. Subtract out Pascal Dupuis (who will end up on LTIR) and Pittsburgh has $66.85 million tied up in 17 players, before these 3 contracts. Now it would be $68.74 million for 20 players, a full compliment of players. This would include:
Forwards (11): Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Eric Fehr, Wilson, Rust, Kuhhackl
Defensemen (6): Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin
Goaltenders (2): Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Murray
Salary retention (1): Rob Scuderi
Free-agents to be (UFA): Matt Cullen, Jeff Zatkoff, Ben Lovejoy, Kevin Porter
Free-agents-to-be (RFA): Beau Bennett, Justin Schultz
So, this is good, the Penguins pretty much have a full team (add Daniel Sprong in to the forwards and they're still under $70 million) for next season already built, and give themselves a little flexibility if the salary cap remains stagnant or even goes down a little.
Even better, for all the talk of "the Penguins are old and their window is closing", that's 7 players under 25 next year (8 if you count Sprong). And, of course, they can always look to trade a vet with a salary over the summer if they feel the need to go a different direction.
For now though, nice to see them lock up 3 young call-ups who have proven value in recent weeks with team friendly deals well before the summer hits. A minor detail to wrap up, but an important one nonetheless.