The Penguins took care of 50% of their key restricted free agents for this summer today with the news that forward Radim Zohorna is signed for the next two seasons. From the team:
The contract, which is two-way in 2021-22 and one-way in 2022-23, runs through the ‘22-23 season and carries an average annual value of $750,000 at the NHL level.
“Radim impressed us last season with his ability to transition to the smaller ice surface quickly and adapt his game,” said Penguins general manager Ron Hextall. “He is a power forward with a lot of potential and we are excited to watch him continue to grow as a player.”
Zohorna, 25, played his first season in North America in 2020-21 with the Penguins organization, splitting time between Pittsburgh, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League, and Pittsburgh’s taxi squad. With Pittsburgh, Zohorna recorded four points (2G-2A) in eight appearances. The rookie recorded his first NHL goal on his first career shot on March 25 against Buffalo, becoming the 22nd Penguins player to score a goal in his first career game.
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Zohorna played 12 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and notched three goals, eight assists and 11 points.
Nice move for both parties, the Penguins can assign Zohorna to the AHL and save some real cash, but Zohorna gets a fully guaranteed $750,000 salary in 2022-23, no matter where he plays. With Sam Lafferty and Anthony Angello on those one-way contracts for 2021-22, it would be a higher cost to the team financially to send either one of those players down to the AHL instead of Zohorna. It will be up to Zohorna to prove he’s worth that extra (relatively small) expenditure if he can bring more to the team in training camp.
Penciling one of Zohorna, Lafferty or Angello in as the team’s 13th forward and re-assigning the other two the AHL would leave about $2.6 million under the salary cap for Pittsburgh. The only other major move they still have would be to re-sign the other RFA in Zach Aston-Reese, which will eat up much of that space and not allow for any additional roster adds, barring a trade to send out salary.