Despite there being at least some doubts that the team could bring the villainous forward back, the Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to a three-year contract extension with rambunctious forward Matt Cooke. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review has the story, which states that the team hasn’t released the salary details just yet.
Left wing Matt Cooke has reached a verbal agreement on a three-year contract with the Penguins. Term was agreed upon Monday night and the contract has been sent to NHL central registry to be made official.
Financial terms were not immediately known, but Cooke is one of the rare plus-30 players to re-sign with the Penguins on a multi-year deal since Shero was named to his post in May 2006.
Cooke, 31, was one of eight Penguins eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Finding a resolution with him and defenseman Sergei Gonchar, 36, were the top offseason priorities of Penguins general manager Ray Shero.
While Cooke was already known for playing with an edge (or, as many will say, going far over the edge), this season solidified him as one of the most controversial hitters in the league after his brutal – but somehow legal – hit on Boston Bruins center Marc Savard.
Cooke is one of those “hate him until he’s on your team” type players, though. He scored 28 goals and 61 points in his two seasons with the Penguins, but Cooke truly came into form once Pittsburgh hired current head coach Dan Bylsma. In the 104 games played in the burrito-loving coach’s system, Cooke had 20 of 28 and 46 of 61 points and an impressive +22 rating. Love him or more likely hate him, he brought decent scoring punch to go along with his hard hits and excellent forechecking skills.
This comes a day after the team wrapped up defensive prospect and possible 2010-11 starter Ben Lovejoy to a three-year contract that would yield a 525K cap hit per season if the young blueliner plays at the NHL level. As Rossi pointed out, the Penguins still have some important decisions to make this off-season, particularly regarding the future of their top defenseman Sergei Gonchar.