Justin Schultz took a significant pay cut to re-sign with the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.
He doesn’t begrudge the deal he signed, as the Penguins have been a big part of turning his career around.
One assumes winning a couple of Stanley Cups has been pretty fun, too.
That being said, the 26-year-old defenseman wants a raise.
“We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did,” Schultz’s agent, Wade Arnott, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded.”
Schultz, a restricted free agent, had a career-high 51 points in 78 games last season. Those 51 points were the seventh most among NHL defensemen — just five fewer than this summer’s biggest UFA, Kevin Shattenkirk, managed.
Schultz then added 13 more points in the playoffs, as the Penguins managed to win it all without Kris Letang.
For the record, Schultz wants to stay in Pittsburgh. The question is whether the Pens can afford to keep him, or if they’d be better off selling high in a trade.
“We’ll probably have some more direction here this week with where we’re going with [a possible extension],” Arnott said. “But we’ve had some good discussions.”
The depth of the Pittsburgh Penguins defense faced the ultimate test this spring, winning a Stanley Cup despite the absence of Kris Letang.
Among those depth blueliners asked to come in and help fill the void left by injuries on defense was Chad Ruhwedel. And on Thursday, Ruhwedel re-signed with the Penguins to a two-year deal.
The Penguins announced that this new deal has an average annual value of $650,000 — a modest raise from his one-year, $575,000 deal for last season, but still certainly affordable for a Pittsburgh team that needs to get restricted free agents Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary under contract.
In his first season with the Penguins, Ruhwedel split his time between Pittsburgh and the AHL team in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He scored twice with 10 points in 34 games with Pittsburgh, and then appeared in six postseason games as injuries continued to mount on the blue line.
His last game of the postseason came on May 19 versus Ottawa. He was diagnosed with a concussion, which was the result of a hit from Bobby Ryan in Game 4.
One would maybe say that Brent Burns won his first Norris Trophy by the hair on his chin … but then that would mean by, you know, a lot.
Anyway, Burns edged Erik Karlsson and Victor Hedman to be named “defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
As expected, his speech and beard were equally fantastic, including Burns’ hope that his kids aren’t “chasing around wildebeests” in Texas.
Burns topped defensemen with 29 goals and 76 points. Karlsson generated 17 goals and 71 points while Hedman 16 goals and 72 points, rounding out a true three-horse race between high-scoring, fantastic all-around defensemen.
Here are the voting results.
2016-2017 Norris Trophy Voting
1. Brent Burns, SJS 1437 (96-61-10-0-0)
2. Erik Karlsson, OTT 1292 (63-86-9-4-3)
3. Victor Hedman, TBL 728 (3-13-106-21-14)
4. Duncan Keith, CHI 384 (2-4-19-70-31)
5. Ryan Suter, MIN 175 (2-1-9-25-28)
6. Shea Weber, MTL 100 (1-0-6-11-27)
7. Drew Doughty, LAK 51 (0-0-1-10-16)
8. Mark Giordano, CGY 41 (0-0-1-11-3)
9. Dougie Hamilton, CGY 23 (0-0-0-6-5)
10. Justin Schultz, PIT 22 (0-0-2-2-6)
11. Roman Josi, NSH 19 (0-1-0-2-6)
12. Dustin Byfuglien, WPG 15 (0-0-2-1-2)
13. Jared Spurgeon, MIN 14 (0-0-2-1-1)
14. Kevin Shattenkirk, WSH 9 (0-0-0-1-6)
15. Torey Krug, BOS 7 (0-1-0-0-0)
16. Alex Pietrangelo, STL 7 (0-0-0-1-4)
17. Ryan McDonagh, NYR 5 (0-0-0-1-2)
18. Seth Jones, CBJ 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
Zach Werenski, CBJ 4 (0-0-0-0-4)
20. Jaccob Slavin, CAR 2 (0-0-0-0-2)
21. Cam Fowler, ANA 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Dmitry Orlov, WSH 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS 1 (0-0-0-0-1)
Click here for the full history of Norris Trophy winners.
On this date in 2003, Marc-Andre Fleury went first overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Entry Draft. Today, it does in fact appear, based on translated reports, that the popular veteran goaltender is heading to Vegas in the expansion draft.
Fleury has been, for quite some time now, mentioned as a possible option in net for the Vegas Golden Knights.
According to Pierre LeBrun of TSN, it also looks like the Penguins are sending a draft pick to the Golden Knights — a deal made to persuade George McPhee to take Fleury.
Now 32 years old, Fleury had a no-movement clause in his contract, but with Matt Murray taking over the No. 1 goaltending duties in Pittsburgh, Fleury decided to waive, making him available in the expansion draft.
As it stands right now, the Penguins now have about $15 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly, with 12 players on expiring contracts. That includes pending restricted free agents Conor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz. They also have a number of pending unrestricted free agents, like Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley, Chris Kunitz and possibly Ron Hainsey.
Pittsburgh’s general manager Jim Rutherford has urged the club’s pending UFAs to test the free agent market, but kept the door open to those who may want to return.
Fleury has become a fan-favorite in Pittsburgh, and he recently got the chance to say goodbye to Penguins fans.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had the luxury of bringing a good chunk of their 2016 Stanley Cup Championship team back in 2017.
Despite being tight for cap space, the strategy obviously worked out, as they became the first team in the salary cap era to win back-to-back championships.
But things will probably be a little different this off-season. The Penguins have a few more key pieces that need new contracts, including restricted free agents like Conor Sheary, Justin Schultz and Brian Dumoulin.
General manager Jim Rutherford also has to find a way to re-sign unrestricted free agents like Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley, Chris Kunitz and possibly Ron Hainsey. The issue for Rutherford, is that they only have $14.9 million in cap space (that could change if Marc-Andre Fleury gets picked in the expansion draft).
So instead of negotiating new deals with his UFAs, Rutherford has told them to explore free agency on July 1st. Once they see what their market value is, they can come back and negotiate with the Pens.
“If you want to come back to Pittsburgh, we’re going to keep the door open for everybody,” Rutherford told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “At that point in time, I’ll have a better understanding as to how we can fit certain guys in. We won’t be able to fit everybody in, but how can we fit certain guys in? Can we get to the market value of what these players can get to go somewhere else, or get close enough to it that they’re going to still come back to Pittsburgh?”
There’s a chance they could see their depth down the middle take a considerable hit this off-season. Sure, they’ll still have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but Nick Bonino can walk in free agency, while Matt Cullen may just decide to retire. Both players played a significant role in Pittsburgh’s two Stanley Cup victories.
It’ll be interesting to see how they line up next fall.