The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed center Joe Vitale to a two-year extension worth $1.1 million, according to the team website. The deal will kick in next season and pay Vitale $550,000 per year.
The deal is a one-way contract, meaning Vitale will be paid the same amount at either the NHL level or the AHL level. Contrary to popular belief (I blame EA Sports), this has nothing to do with whether or not Vitale has to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL.
Vitale has been the team’s best faceoff man at 55.9 percent this season and has recorded three goals and seven assists in in 44 games this year, playing most of them on the fourth line.
At near league minimum salary, Vitale is low-risk and is a nice fit in the team’s bottom six.
This means the Penguins will have James Neal, Matt Niskanen and Cal O’Reilly as the only restricted free agents currently on the NHL roster, though Eric Tangradi, Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait will be RFAs as well. Steve Sullivan, Arron Asham, Richard Park, Colin McDonald and Brent Johnson will become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.
The team now has close to $55 million in salary committed to 10 forwards, six defensemen and a goaltender for next year. The current cap is $64.3 million.
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