The Penguins have re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Robert Bortuzzo (right) to a two-year contract believed to be worth $1.2 million. The contract will have a cap hit of $600,000.
Coming off a contract of $525,000, Bortuzzo, 24, appeared in 15 games last season and recorded four points (two goals, two assists). His relative Corsi rating, a metric of puck possession, was plus-1.7, fourth-best among the team's defensemen last season.
A third round pick in 2007, Bortuzzo (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) spent parts of the past four seasons with either the NHL or AHL Penguins.
This signing avoid an arbitration hearing between Bortuzzo and the team which was scheduled for Aug. 1. With the exception of Mark Eaton, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, all of whom were not believed to be serious candidates to return, the Penguins have re-signed all their free agents at the NHL level.
Per numbers provided by CapGeek.com, this signing would put the Penguins 1,098,333 over the salary cap for the 2013-14 season. During the offseason, teams are permitted to exceed the cap of $64.3 million by 10 percent.
-EN Says: On paper, Bortuzzo is what this team needs around the net. A large, physical and rangy presence who can keep the crease clear of opposing forwards and rebounds. In practice, the coaching staff was slow to give him many chances, especially as the season wore on.
The fact that management was willing to make a two-year commitment to Bortuzzo is somewhat revealing about how much faith there is in his abilities.
With Bortuzzo wrapped up, the Penguins must address the growing problem of getting under the salary cap. The most likely candidate to be jettisoned from the roster would appear to be Matt Niskanen who has one year remaining on a contract with a salary cap hit of $2.3 million.
With the return of Rob Scuderi as well as the presence of prospects such as Bortuzzo and Simon Despres, Niskanen is a luxury at this point. Additionally, coming off a fairly strong season (by his standards), Niskanen could merit a decent return in a potential trade. If Tyler Kennedy, coming off two bad seasons, was worth a second-round pick to the Sharks, what would a right-handed defenseman like Niskanen who is coming off two above average seasons merit?
(Photo: Vincent Pugliese/ Getty Images)