The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a lot of noise this offseason, but the most important restricted free agent who needed to be signed was Brandon Sutter, and on Tuesday afternoon, they finally made it happen.
Sutter’s new deal will be two years and is worth $6.6 million, which is the perfect deal for both parties. The Penguins didn’t have a lot of wiggle room, but the $3.3 million average annual value (AAV) gives them right around $900,000 under the salary cap to work with. There’s a possibility the Penguins have a late tryout, but they are most likely done in terms of signings and can move on to formulating their roster.
With a brand new general manager and a brand new coaching staff, the fact that this deal is finally done is great news for Penguins fans. It’s going to take a little longer than normal for the players to adjust to a new system, but the fact that the book is pretty much closed on the Penguins’ free agency signings allows the new staff to start getting to know their team.
Had Sutter been an unrestricted free agent, he likely would have made more than the $3.3 AAV he got from the Penguins, but the short-term deal means he can test the waters in 2016 if he wants to leave and earn a bit more dough. While he may have been paid less than what he’s worth, Sutter has always been one of the guys who has seemed to enjoy his time in Pittsburgh and it’s good to see him get a well-deserved raise from the $2.7 million he made last season.
Ever since coming over from the Carolina Hurricanes as part of the Jordan Staal trade, Sutter has established himself as one of the best third-line centers in the league and has been crucial to the success of the Penguins’ penalty kill. He may not have a lot of flash in his game, but he knows his role and rarely takes a shift off, which can sometimes be just as important as having superstar talent.
With 64 days left until the NHL regular season begins, Sutter’s signing means that Penguins fans can shift their attention from the free agency pool to what the opening night lineup might look like.