The Pittsburgh Penguins defensive corps in a state of flux, with veteran defensemen Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff likely testing free agent waters on July 1 and Olli Maatta and Kris Letang returning from seasoning-ending injuries.
The Penguins made a big step to solidifying their blue line on Monday when they re-signed defenseman Ian Cole to a three-year contract.
Cole, 26, was brought over from the St. Louis Blues in a trade deadline deal from Robert Bortuzzo. He immediately fit in on the Penguins, brining strong play on defense a knack for making smart, simple plays on offense. Cole is also a left-handed shot that is comfortable playing on the right side, which the left-handed heavy Penguins utilized at the end of last season.
The Notre Dame graduate had one goal and one assist in his 20 games with the Penguins after the trade, and more impressively, had a 58.3 shot attempt-for percentage.
Cole was scheduled to become a restricted free agent this offseason. The three-year deal covers the first two seasons that Cole would have been eligible to be an unrestricted free agent.
Cole’s contract will pay him an average of $2.1 million annually.
The rest of the Penguins restricted free agents – forwards Beau Bennett, Bobby Farnham, Adam Payerl and Dominic Uher, defensemen Brian Dumoulin, Reid McNeill and Nick D’Agostino and goaltender Eric Hartzell – will need to be given qualifying offers by 5:00 p.m. today, otherwise they will become unrestricted free agents.
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