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Schultz: 'I told them today that I want to be there' - 07-13-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins re-signed defenseman Justin Schultz to a one-year contract worth a total of $1.4 million today

This afternoon, he spoke about taking a pay cut, not being qualified as a restricted free agent and his future with the team.

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You became an unrestricted free agent July 1. What have the past two weeks been like?

"Just the process of sitting and waiting and seeing what's out there. Being patient. Pittsburgh was always No. 1 for me. So it was definitely nice to get that deal done."

You took a significant cut in pay. That seems like a testament to how much you enjoyed playing for the Penguins.

"Yeah. I love it there. I love my teammates. I love the coaches. The city. Just a lot of fun to be there. I don't know if I had had that much fun ever playing hockey. And obviously it helps when you win the [Stanley] Cup. Obviously, it's a great fit for me. Just looking to improve on it next year."

You were scheduled to become a restricted free agent July 1 but the team didn't extend a qualifying offer to you because it couldn't affort the mininum of $3.9 million it would take to qualify you. That allowed you to become an unrestricted free agent. Did you understand that process as it related to the salary cap?

"I understood everything that was going on. They're obviously pretty tight against the cap. Even when they didn't qualify me, it didn't make me mad or anything. It was just part of the process. I knew that we could get something done for sure."

Did you speak with any other teams as an unrestricted free agent?

"Yeah, there was a couple of teams. It was slower than I thought. But like I said, Pittsburgh was No. 1. That was my focus and we got it done."

What worked for you after you joined the Penguins following the trade deadline?

"I think I got my confidence back slowly and started playing my game again. I just stuck with it in the playoffs when I wasn't playing much or out of the lineup. Just trying to stay ready. I got my chance and helped the team win the Stanley Cup which I'm pretty proud of."

You primarily played with defenseman Ian Cole down the stretch of the regular season and postseason and seemed to find chemistry.

"Sometimes you just find chemistry with a partner. He's a pretty vocal guy. I think that helped me a lot. We talked through things a lot and helped each other. Played a simple game and we were effective out there. He's a great player and I love playing with him."

You signed a one-year contract. Do you look at this as a "bridge" contract to a longer-term deal?

"I've got to have a good year and hopefully lock up something longer term with the Penguins. That's what I want. Coming to camp ready to go is key. I told them today that I want to be there."

Finally, when is your day with the Stanley Cup?

"It's July 28th. I'll be getting it here in Kelowna, British Columbia. A bunch of stuff planned. It will be a busy day but it will be fun with a big party at my house. It will be a blast. "

(Photos: Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

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Rutherford on Schultz: 'He really liked playing in Pittsburgh' - 07-13-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins re-signed one of their remaining unrestricted free agents today in defenseman Justin Schultz. He inked a one-year contract worth $1.4 million.

Earlier this afternoon, general manager Jim Rutherford talked about re-signing Schultz, his salary cap and unrestricted free agent center Matt Cullen.

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Justin Schultz was coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $3.9 million and he re-signed for $1.4 million. How did this all play out?

"He made it clear that he wanted to return. He really liked playing in Pittsburgh. We made it clear right after the season we'd like him to come back but we're a team that's right up against the [salary] cap. For a guy making [$3.9 million], he would have to take a fairly big step backwards to take a big step forward. So he went through the process, which we expected, through free agency the first couple of weeks. Once you get by those first few days of July, the market changed dramatically. He made a decision that he wanted to stay here and we signed him for a one-year deal at $1.4 million."

He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent and you didn't qualify him. That allowed him to become an unrestrictd free agent July 1. 

"We couldn't qualify him. We had to qualify him at his number which is [$3.9 million]. So we didn't qualify him. Then we made him aware at the time, the reasons why we couldn't do it. It still meant we would like him to consider the Penguins."

What did he offer to your team when you traded for him last seaosn?

"A puck-moving defneseman. A guy who could play on the power play and he ended up [as] a right-handed shot that fit in well with [defenseman Ian] Cole. They had good chemistry. He did what we expected him to do. We do feel that there's a bigger upside to him and with a little guidance from our coaching staff, he's going to be able to do that. But as long as he plays the way he played last year, he fits in on our team and with a chance of improving at a time that he's just coming into his prime at his age."

At the draft last month, you said you have approximately $1 million of salary cap space to work with. How did this contract impact that figure?

"I should have explained myself a little bit more. What I was saying was $1 million of salary cap space with the right projections on numbers for 23 [players] and the number for [unrestricted free agent center Matt] Cullen, the number for Schultz and having enough room for a [recall]."

The door is still open for Cullen to re-sign?

"The door is open. There's no time frame. I'm really hoping he comes back. He's trying to make that decision. I think he would like to play. We have a number established that fits into our cap. It does not represent what his worth is to the team based on what he did last year. But it's the position we're in. If he doesn't come in, we've got Oskar Sundqvist ready to go in that position. Ideally, I'd like Matt to come back for another year [and] let Oskar to continue to develop in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton]. If doesn't play out that way, we've got the position covered."

(Photos: Matt Slocum/Associated Press)

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Penguins re-sign Schultz - 07-13-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins re-signed unrestricted free agent defenseman Justin Schultz to a one-year contract worth $1.4 million.

Schultz was acquired prior to last season’s trade deadline in a deal which sent a 2016 third-round draft pick to the Edmonton Oilers. In 18 regular season games for the Penguins, Schultz scored eight points (one goal, seven assists). He appeared in 15 postseason games and recorded four assists while helping the franchise claim its fourth Stanley Cup title.

The contract represents a significant drop in pay for Schultz who was coming off a one-year contract worth $3.9 million. Schultz was scheduled to become a restricted free agent July 1 but the Penguins did not extend a qualifying offer and allowed him to reach unrestricted free agency. 

With the Penguins having lost defenseman Ben Lovejoy through free agency earlier this month, Schultz is one of two-right-handed defenseman currently on the NHL roster in addition to Kris Letang.

EN Says: The fact that Schultz was willing to take such a significant pay cut shows how much he enjoyed playing for the Penguins.

It seemed like his eyes lit up anytime he spoke about being a member of the Penguins following the trade from Edmonton last season. Used primarily in a third-pairing role as well as on the second power-play units, Schultz flourished in a lesser role than the one he was expected to inhabit in Edmonton where former general manager Craig MacTavish suggested he would win the Norris Trophy.

Schultz also helps the Penguins maintain some depth among their right-handed defensemen. For whatever reason, right-handed blue liners are like rare isotopes. If you can get one, hang on to it. Head coach Mike Sullivan has expressed a preference for righty-lefty pairings on defense and they largely employed that look last season whenever possible.

(Note: Defenseman Trevor Daley is a left-handed shot but actually prefers and is more comfortable playing the right side.)

The Penguins found quite a bit of success using Schultz and left-handed Ian Cole on the third pairing down the stretch of the regular season and into the postseason. 

The big question now is what this means in regards to the Penguins' salary cap. General manager Jim Rutherford estimated his team had approximately $1 million of salary cap space before free agency began. Even if you discount all the two-way contracts his team signed July 1, this signing, even if it's cheap by NHL standards, puts the Penguins over the salary cap. 

General Fanager, a Web site which tracks salary cap information has the Penguins listed as currently having a payroll of $75,299,999. That would put them $2,299,999 over the salary cap. The team will presumably place right winger Pascal Dupuis, all but officially retired due to blood clots, on long-term injured reserve the first day of the season. That will relieve them of his $3.75 million salary cap hit and put them under the salary cap by $1.45 million if those numbers are accurate. 

(Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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Braddock's John Fetterman, a Bernie supporter, formally backs Clinton

When Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders formally endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton yesterday, Ms. Clinton didn't just garner the backing of her longtime Democratic rival. She also could lay claim to backing from folks like Braddock Mayor John Fetterman, a high-profile Sanders supporter with considerable cache among younger...

Read more http://www.post-gazette.com/early-returns/erlocal/2016/07/13/Braddock-s-John-Fetterman-a-Bernie-supporter-formally-backs-Clinton/stories/201607130170

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Empty Netter Assists - Nailers hire Christian - 07-13-16

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-The Wheeling Nailers hired Jeff Christian as full-time head coach. He previously served as head coach on an interim basis.

Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division

-The Hurricanes re-signed restricted free agent forward Victor Rask (rightto a six-year contract worth a total of $24 million. Coming off and entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $680,833, Rask's new deal will have a cap hit of $4 million. Rask, 23, appeared in 80 games last season and scored 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists). 

-EN Says: Rask broke through last season with a series of career numbers. A creative playmaking-center, Rask is also strong in the faceoff circle. He'll be a big part of the Carolina's future.

-The Islanders re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Scott Mayfield to a two-year contract worth a total of $1.25 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of  $925,000, Mayfield's new deal will have a cap hit of $625,000. Mayfield, 23, appeared in six games last season and had one goal. 

-EN Says: No longer immune to waivers, Mayfield was given a one-way contract which incrases the liklelihood he will end up on an NHL roster. A big (6-foot-4, 224 pounds) defender, Mayfield is a bottom-pairing defender. 

-The Devils hired former forward Ryane Clowe as an assistant coach.

Atlantic Division

-“Well, yeah, I woke up with tubes down my throat, so I was pretty surprised." - Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban on suffering a fractured larynx last season.

-The Panthers signed forward Denis Malgin, a fourth-round pick in 2015, to a three-year, entry-level contract.

-Sabres defensive prospect Michael Campoli was hospitalized after suffering an undisclosed injury during a development camp scrimmage Tuesday. He was released from the hospital later in the day.

Central Division

-The Stars re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Jamie Oleksiak (rightto a one-year contract worth $918,750. Coming off a contract with a salary cap hit of $875,000, Oleksiak, 23, appeared in 19 games last season and recorded two assists. 

-EN Says: A first-round pick in 2011, Oleskiak is a huge (6-foot-7, 250 pounds) defender who just hasn't gained much traction in the NHL. This contract gives him another chance to prove himself. 

-Wild goaltending prospect Adam Vay is aiming to become the NHL's first player from Hungary.

-With forward David Backes having left as a free agent, who will be the Blues' next captain?

Pacific Division

-“I started feeling like I could play, and I could keep playing." - Coyotes captain/forward Shane Doan on signing a one-year contract extension at the age of 39.

-The NHL's Las Vegas expansion team is expected to name former Capitals general manager George McPhee as its first general manager today.

(Photos: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images and Jim Mone/Associated Press)

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