It was a longer free agency than most expected for Marcus Pettersson, but with training camp about to kick off the Penguins have re-signed their promising young defenseman to a one year deal for 2019-20.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed defenseman Marcus Pettersson to a one-year contract. The one-way deal has an average annual value of $874,125.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 12, 2019
More details: https://t.co/2ltvE37zl4 pic.twitter.com/k8pfur7S4i
Pettersson only gets his qualifying offer, a 10% raise off of his last contract instead of a more lucrative longer deal. As a restricted free agent with no arbitration rights, the Pens held all the leverage this summer with Pettersson, this is basically the lowest possible salary he could have coming off his ELC, and it (unfortunately for the player) was all Pittsburgh could afford to due based on their current salary structure.
Pittsburgh made no secret that they wanted to lock Pettersson up long-term after a breakout 2018-19 that saw the team acquire him from Anaheim and then go onto play very well. However the salary cap constraints meant there was no space for a longer contract, which likely would have started with a $3 in it for annual salary.
Instead, Pettersson has little other choice but to accept this short deal and bet on himself to have a great season. If so, next summer could be when he cashes in. The Pens have signed similar left-handed young defenders over the years like Brian Dumoulin (six years, $4.1m per) and Olli Maatta (six years, $4.083m per) so another strong season for Pettersson could pay off and turn that “$3” into a “$4” on a longer contract.
For the team, how will this affect their salary cap overall? We explained this process in August here.
Basically, prior to Pettersson re-signing, if you counted on a 22-man roster (13 forwards, 6 defensemen+MP as the seventh, 2 goalies) and the small bonus overage from last season, Pittsburgh had almost $1.4 million in cap space. This assumes that Juuso Riikola will be assigned to the AHL prior to the start of the regular season.
Now with Pettersson in the fold for almost $900k, the team would have about $300-500k in space under the upper limit if they go with seven defensemen out of training camp, depending on if they chose to send Juuso Riikola or Chad Ruhwedel down.
So there you have it, the Pens don’t have a ton of space under the cap and now any moves they will want to make during the season will have to primarily focus on the financial aspect. Should the team need a trade one would think that surely the first candidates would be players without a no-trade clause that make significant salary (Bryan Rust, Nick Bjugstad, Erik Gudbranson) as the most fitting candidates to be moved.
For now though, the good news is the Pens have re-signed an important player for this season in Pettersson and not had to make a major move in order to do so.