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Penguins lose Lovejoy, Zatkoff - 07-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

As expected, the Penguins have lost a few members of their Stanley Cup-winning team.

Defenseman Ben Lovejoy (above) signed a three-year contract worth $6 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $1.1 million, Lovejoy's new deal will have a cap hit of $2.66 million.

Lovejoy, 32, appeared in 66 games for the Penguins last season and scored 10 points (four goals, six assists). In 24 postseason game, he scored six points (two goals, four assists.

Largely used in a defensive role, Lovejoy routinely drew assignments against opponent's top forwards. A strong skater with limited puck skills, Lovejoy's strengths are primarily defensive in nature.

Lovejoy will rejoin a number of familiar faces in New Jersey such as general manager Ray Shero, assistant general manager Tom Fitzgerald as well as right winger Beau Bennett. With the Devils having traded right-handed defenseman Adam Larsson this week, Lovejoy, also a right-handed shot, would appear to fill an immediate void for the team.

Additionally, the Penguins lost backup goaltender Jeff Zatkoff who signed a two-year contract worth $1.8 million. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $600,000, Zatkoff's new deal will have a $900,000.

Zatkoff, 29, appeared in 14 games for the Penguins last season and had a 2.79 goals against average as well as a .917 save percentage.

After losing the No. 2 role to rookie Matt Murray, Zatkoff was pressed into starting duties for the first two games of the postseason while Murray and Fleury were sidelined due to injuries. Zatkoff went 1-1 with a 3.08 goals against average and .908 save percentage. 

Zatkoff (right) spent parts of the past three seasons with the Penguins. He was originally drafted by the Kings in 2006 in the third round but never reached the NHL level with that organization. He will likely serve as a backup to 

EN Says: These aren't surprising moves. General manager Jim Rutherford estimated he only has approximately $1 million of salary cap space to work with and even at their modest salaries, Lovejoy and Zatkoff weren't going to re-sign.

Lovejoy really turned his fortunes around over the past calendar year. Acquired at the 2015 trade deadline in a questionable trade which sent defenseman Simon Despres to the Ducks, Lovejoy struggled in the 2015 postseason. He entered 2015-16 with a lot of scrutiny directed at him and he responded by becoming a very reliable and dependable second-pairing defender. 

With Lovejoy's departure and the possible loss of defenseman Justin Schultz, the Penguins could end up losing two right-handed defensemen this offseason. Given head coach Mike Sullivan's strong preference for right-lefty defensive pairings, there is room for concern in losing both players.

With the emergence of Murray as well as a build-up of organizational depth in goaltenders Tristan Jarry, Sean Maguire and Filip Gustavsson, Zatkoff was a luxury the Penguins couldn't afford. 

(Photos: Christian Petersen/Getty Images and Eric Risberg/Associated Press)

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Penguins agree to new contract with assistant coach Martin - 07-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins have agreed to a two-year contract extension with assistant coach Jacques Martin, according to a team source.

Martin has been a member of the Penguins in various capacities the past three seasons. Last season, he took over as an assistant coach when Mike Sullivan assumed head coaching duties in mid-December.

Overseeing the team's defensemen and penalty kill, Martin helped the franchise secure its fourth Stanley Cup last month. It was the first Stanley Cup in Martin's career.

Martin, 63, has previously served as head coach of the Blues, Senators, Panthers and Canadiens as well as general manager of the Panthers.

Additionally, the team is expected to fulfill most of the duties of former director of player personnel Dan MacKinnon from within the organization. MacKinnon left the team for a similar position with the New Jersey Devils earlier this week.

(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Penguins sign Rutherford to three-year extension - 07-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins' biggest signing of the day had nothing to do with the on-ice product.

General manager Jim Rutherford was signed to a three-year contract extension which replaces his current deal. His new contract will run through 2018-19.

Hired as general manager in the 2014 offseason, Rutherford has directed the team for the past two seasons. After seeing the team be eliminated in the first round of the 2015 offseason, Rutherford orchestrated massive changes to the roster which brought players such as Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, Trevor Daley, Carl Hagelin to the Penguins. Additionally, he fired head coach Mike Johnston at mid-season and replaced him with Mike Sullivan.

Those changes led to the franchise capturing its fourth Stanley Cup title last month. Rutherford was given the NHL's General Manager of the Year award last month as well.

EN Says: Given Rutherford's success, it's hard to argue with this extension. He's righted the ship in a short amount of time and reestablished the Penguins as one of the NHL's prominent franchises.

What is fair to wonder is what his means for the future of associate general manager Jason Botterill. Considered a successor to Rutherford, Botterill tends to be mentioned anytime a team is seeking general manager candidates. Botterill even filled the Penguins' general manager role on an interim basis prior to Rutherford's hiring. 

With the NHL expanding to Las Vegas next season, Botterill will presumably be a candidate for that franchise's general manager position.

When Rutherford initially joined the Penguins, he suggested he would hold the job for a handful of seasons before giving way to Botterill or one of the team's assistant general manager. After today's signing of Rutherford, the Penguins presumably won't be promoting any of Rutherford's lieutenants for the foreseeable future. 

(Photos: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Penguins re-sign Warsofsky; sign Gaunce, Ruhwedel - 07-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins re-signed a defenseman ... just not one of the ones who helped them win a Stanley Cup.

David Warsofsky (above) was re-signed to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000. In 22 NHL games last season, Warsofsky, 26, scored two points (one goal, one assists). The Penguins lost him on waivers to the Devils Feb. 29.

Warsofsky played for the United States in this spring's IIHF World Championship and five points (one goal, one assist).

Signed by the Penguins last offseason on a one-year, two-way contract, Warsofsky was initially recalled in November when injuries struck the blue line. He averaged 17:45 a game with the Penguins. At times, he was the quarterback of the team's power play when Kris Letang and others were injured.

-EN Says: Warsofsky is another favorite of head coach Mike Sullivan. A trusty and reliable player who more often than not makes the safe play, Warsofsky won't make or break the team but he's a slick puck mover who fits this team's style. With the defense already losing defenseman Ben Lovejoy, Warsofsky is a safe signing.

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The team also signed former Stars/Avalanche defenseman Cameron Gaunce to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000 at the NHL level. Gaunce, 26, was an all-star in the AHL last season with the Portland Pirates. In 75 AHL games, he scored 37 points (two goals, 35 assists). 

He has not played in the NHL since 2013-14 when he appeared in nine games (with no points) for the Stars. A second-round pick of the Avalanche in 2008, he has played in 20 career NHL games and has one goal. 

A native of Sudbury, Ont., the left-handed Gaunce is listed at 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds.

-EN Says: Despite his healthy offensive totals, Gaunce is more renown for his physical abilities. While the Penguins are going to miss the likes of Lovejoy and potentially Justin Schultz, it's difficult to see Gaunce being a realistic candidate to start the season on the NHL roster.

If nothing else, he's not afraid to drop the gloves:

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The Penguins signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a one-year, two-way contract worth $575,000. 

Ruhwedel, 26, spend the past four seasons in the Sabres organization. He appeared in one NHL game last season and failed to score a point. In 59 AHL games with the Rochester Americans, Ruhwedel scored 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists).

A native of San Diego who shoots right-handed, he is listed at 5-foot-11 and 191 pounds. 

-EN Says: Ruhwedel is another puck-moving defenseman who can produce points at lower levels of hockey. He has yet to show he can do it at the NHL level.

The Penguins will have no shortage of options - albeit hardly spectacular ones - to fill out their organizational depth on the blue line. 

(Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

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Penguins sign Stuart; Olesky Sestito re-signed - 07-01-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins signed defenseman Stuart Percy (right), formerly of the Maple Leafs, to a one-year two-way contract. The contract has a salary cap hit of $575,000 at the NHL level.

Percy, 23, appeared in three NHL games last season and had no points. In 58 American Hockey League Games with the Toronto Marlies, he scored 24 points (four goals, 20 assists). 

A first-round pick in 2011 (No. 25 overall), he has spent parts of the past five seasons with the Maple Leafs organization and only played 12 NHL games while recording three assists. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent but the Maple Leafs did not extend a qualifying offer and allowed him to become unrestricted.

A native Oakville, Ont., he is listed at 6-foot-1, 187 pounds.

EN Says: Percy is a failed first-round pick who comes to the Penguins seeking a second chance. A puck mover with a left-handed shot, he plays a style which fits into the Penguins' current identity. With the Penguins expected to lose unrestricted free agent defensemen Ben Lovejoy and Justin Schultz, Percy is a low-risk/high-reward signing to fill out the team's depth on the blue line.

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The Penguins re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Steve Oleksy and left winger Tom Sestito to one-year, two-way contracts. Each deal carries a salary cap hit of $575,000.

Oleksy, 30, did not play in an NHL game last season despite multiple recalls. In 63 AHL games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season, he had 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) and led the team with 123 penalty minutes.

Sestito, 28, appeared in four NHL games last season and recorded one assist as well as 19 penalty minutes. Joining the Penguins on a tryout basis last season, he eventually signed a one-year two-way contract midway through 2015-16. In 41 AHL games, he had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) and 104 penalty minutes. 

-EN Says: Olesky and Sesito are favorites of head coach Mike Sullivan but they are kind of "break glass in case of emergency" options for the roster. If massive injuries hit or a particularly physical opponent is in the way, they'll be recalled. But beyond that, they'll be fixtures on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster.

(Photo: Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

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