The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken care of a depth issue keeping Chad Ruhwedel in the fold for two more years.
From the team:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
The deal runs through the 2020-21 season and has an average annual value of $700,000.
”Chad has exemplified what it means to be a team player the past two years,” said general manager Jim Rutherford. “His work ethic and conditioning have allowed him to jump into the lineup at a moment’s notice, which is vital to a team’s success.”
His most meaningful contribution in 2018-19 came when he re-joined the lineup after a 37-game absence to help the Penguins go 4-2-1 over a stretch of seven games. During that span, he scored his first career game-winning goal (Feb. 19 at New Jersey), and logged a career-high 24:38 minutes of time-on-ice in the Stadium Series (Feb. 23 at Philadelphia). He would later miss 18 of the final 19 games due to an upper-body injury.
The 5-foot-11, 191-pound defenseman appeared in 18 games for the Penguins last year, recording one goal and one assist. Prior to 2018-19, Ruhwedel suited up for Pittsburgh in a career-high 44 games in 2017-18, and 34 games in 2016-17, where he recorded a career-best 10 points (2G-8A) and was plus-9.
A 2017 Stanley Cup Champion, the 29-year-old Ruhwedel has appeared in 18 career postseason contests, including a career-best 12 in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. His NHL playoff debut came in Game 6 of the 2017 Second Round against Washington, and he was in the lineup when Pittsburgh earned a Game 7 road victory against the Capitals at the Verizon Center.
Ruhwedel is the ultimate extra defenseman - he went from November 19th to February 13th between playing NHL games this past season, but stays ready when needed. He’s also right handed, a nice perk in a league with most NHL caliber defenseman being left handed. Ruhwedel can skate and move the puck a bit, which makes him a decent enough fit moving forward that the team has obviously wanted to keep in the fold for the next couple of years.
The Pens now have seven defensemen under contract for 2019-20, and still have to come to terms with restricted free agent Marcus Pettersson in what’s not expected to be a difficult task. That would bring the number to eight, which is probably one heavy of what they need, with an expected summer move upcoming to likely dump Olli Maatta and/or (hopefully) Jack Johnson.
Ruhwedel is a nice guy to have in reserve, and the price at near NHL minimum wage can’t be beat for the depth provided. It’s a shame for Ruhwedel that he was a healthy scratch so much in the middle of the season after a rough start, then he did play well in February before being hurt himself as mentioned above. Tough break that many thought might push Pittsburgh to move onto new and different depth options, but obviously to resolve this matter so early they were more than content to hang onto Ruhwedel moving forward.