Pascal Dupuis said he always wanted to stay in Pittsburgh.
He'll be doing just that for the next four years.
The Penguins signed Dupuis to a four-year contract extension worth a total of $15 million. Dupuis, who was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent Friday, will have a salary cap hit of $3.75 million. His previous cap hit was $1.5 million.
Dupuis, 34, appeared in 48 games last season and scored 38 points (20 goals, 18 assists). Dupuis reached the 20-goal mark for the second consecutive season despite logging relatively little power-play time.
Entrenched on the right wing of Sidney Crosby's line, Dupuis is one of the team's top penalty killers averaging 1:55 of short-handed ice time per game last season.
With this signing, the Penguins have an estimated $4,126,667 of salary cap space heading into the 2013-14 season according to CapGeek.com.
Penguins forwards Craig Adams, Matt Cooke, Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, defensemen Mark Eaton and Douglas Murray are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents Friday. Forwards Dustin Jeffrey, Harry Zolnierczyk and defenseman Robert Bortuzzo are scheduled to become restricted free agents Friday.
-EN Says: What an absolute bargain. For a player who has shown an abiity to produce with our without Crosby in the lineup, this is well below what he could have commanded on the open market.
That said, Dupuis definitely recognizes how fortunate of a situation he is in here with the Penguins. There aren't too many other scenarios in the NHL where he is the right wing of choice for a former Hart Trophy winner as he is with Crosby. Even beyond that, he is a natural fit with this team's aggressive forechecking style. Finally, as Dupuis has said plenty of times, he and his family enjoy life in Pittsburgh away from the rink.
With Dupuis in the fold, few questions remain on the team's roster heading into 2013-14. Dupuis and Chris Kunitz are set on Crosby's wings. Beau Bennett or Jussi Jokinen seem set to battle it out to be the left winger on a line with Evgeni Malkin or James Neal.
The "loser" of that battle will likely see third-line duties along side Brandon Sutter. The third and fourth lines are question marks, especially after Tyler Kennedy was traded earlier this week, but with Sutter, Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale under contract, the holes are very pluggable.
Potential contract for Cooke and Adams seems to be the next meal on general manger Ray Shero's plate. It's certainly within the realm of possibility that each player can fit under the Penguins' remaining salary cap space.
On defense, the top four seems set with Kris Letang, Simon Despres, Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik. Ideally, Matt Niskane will man the bottom pairing with a prospect such as Brian Dumoulin or Scott Harrington. Deryk Engelland remains under contract as well.
In net, the pairing of Marc-Andre Fleury and Tomas Vokoun is set.
The 2014-15 season is another matter however. With Dupuis locked up, the Penguins are now scheduled to have $48.95 million of their salary cap tied into nine players. Even if the salary cap ceiling goes up to $70 million as some have estimated, that's relatively little space to fill out the rest of the roster.
Here are the Penguins nine players locked up for 2014-15 at the moment:
Salary Cap Hit
|Evgeni Malkin, C||$9.5 million|
|Sidney Crosby, C||$8.7 million|
|Kris Letang, D||$7.25 million|
|Marc-Andre Fleury, G||$5 million|
|Paul Martin, D||$5 million|
|James Neal, LW||$5 million|
|Chris Kunitz, LW||$3.85 million|
|Pascal Dupuis, RW||$3.75 million|
|Beau Bennett, RW||$900,000-*|
(Photos: First-Nick Laham/Getty Images; Second-Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)