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.
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)