This morning, general manager Jim Rutherford announced that defenseman Justin Schultz would remain with the Pittsburgh Penguins for one more year after signing a one-year, $1.4 million contract.
In total, Schultz finished playing in 33 games – both regular and post-season – with Pittsburgh, contributed a total of 12 points (1 G, 11 A) and was a major part of the team’s championship run. This signing adds some much needed depth at the blue line and brings back an elusive and fast-paced player to a dynamic Penguins offense.
With the amount of injuries coming out of the defensive position this year, it was very necessary to go out and find a player who can not only skate well, but stay healthy. The 26-year-old was acquired from Edmonton for a 2016 third-round draft pick in the later part of February.
The value of this agreement is the biggest surprise out of this deal. Not only are the Penguins keeping a young and talented defenseman, but the price was within range of what Pittsburgh was comfortable in coughing up considering their recent salary restrictions.
The negative to this deal? It may mean that Matt Cullen will be playing elsewhere next season. Thus far, Cullen has reportedly received offers from both Pittsburgh and the Minnesota Wild.
Although it would be great for depth purposes to bring back Cullen, the Penguins made the smart move in bringing back a necessary piece of the team. This isn’t to say Cullen did not make his share of contributions – he was a catalyst for the players around him performing so well – but, with young talent chomping at the bit to play, it makes sense as to why re-signing Cullen would not be an immediate need.
Photo credit: @Penguins