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Penguins sign defenseman Jan Rutta to three-year contract

Former Tampa Bay Lightning defender joining the Penguins

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

Despite already being flush with defensemen, the Pittsburgh Penguins added another on the first day of NHL free agency in the form of Jan Rutta.

From the team:

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenseman Jan Rutta to a three-year contract worth $8.25 million, it was announced today by general manager Ron Hextall.

The contract will begin in the 2022-23 season and runs through the 2024-25 season, and carries an average annual value of $2.75 million.

Rutta, a back-to-back Stanley Cup champion with Tampa Bay in 2020 and ‘21, has spent the last four seasons with the Lightning organization. During the 2021-22 campaign, Rutta recorded three goals, 15 assists, 18 points and a plus-25, which ranked second on the team, in 76 games played. The defenseman established career highs in games played (76), assists (15), plus/minus (+25), hits (93), and blocked shots (71).

The 6-foot-3, 204-pound defenseman tallied five points (1G-4A) in 17 playoff games during the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs, including the opening goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. In 49 career playoff games, Rutta has three goals, eight assists and 11 points.

Rutta adds size, but hasn’t been used very heavily by Tampa. Curious indeed, since the Pens currently have John Marino, Chad Ruhwedel and Mark Friedman to play on the right side behind Kris Letang....For the moment being, anyways.

Perhaps the bigger story of Rutta’s signing is what that signing means for the rest of the roster. It is now a certainty that a defender will be traded away from the Pens in order to make space to fit under the league’s salary cap. Just who it might be is probably well up in the air, with perhaps any defender besides Letang (and now, Rutta) being a candidate to be dealt in the near-future.