The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed defenseman Justin Schultz to a one-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
The deal has an average annual value of $1.4 million.
Schultz, 26, was a key member of Pittsburgh’s defensive core during its 2016 Stanley Cup championship run, contributing four assists and a plus-1 in 15 playoff appearances. He helped set up Brian Dumoulin’s opening goal in the Penguins’ Cup-clinching victory in Game 6.
Pittsburgh acquired the 6-foot-2, 193-pound righthanded-shooting blueliner from Edmonton for a 2016 third-round draft pick on Feb. 27. He went on to tally eight points (1G-7A) and a plus-7 in 18 regular-season contests with the Penguins. His production with Pittsburgh equates to a 36-point pace over 82 games, which would be a career-high total.
It remains to be seen what this will mean for the future of Matt Cullen , who has received offers from (at least) Pittsburgh and the Minnesota Wild. The Penguins salary cap structure is very tight now, and depending on how they leverage the complicated Pascal Dupuis long-term injury reserve situation, they may or may not have the room to bring back Cullen.
Focusing on Schultz, though, this is a nice depth move for Pittsburgh. Coach Mike Sullivan knows how to shield and protect Schultz, but the team only had 1 NHL right-handed defenseman in Kris Letang before this signing. Getting back a young guy, who can skate, move the puck and add to the PP for $1.4 million seems to be a pretty good value with some potential upside if Schultz can continue to improve with the Pens.