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The Pittsburgh and Justin Schultz agreeing to a three year, $16.5 million contract took care of some important business for the Penguins as they needed clarity on Schultz in regards to where this number was going to fall.
The Penguins are now committed to 11 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goaltenders on one-way contracts with $11 million in cap space.
The Schultz deal is a higher AAV than the Penguins surely wanted to go when negotiations started but it was either do this deal at three years or a one year deal, which could have been risky for both sides.
What became clear early in the process I’m told is that a long-term deal of 5+ years wasn’t going to be possible. Pittsburgh would have wanted the AAV in the 4’s, a deal the Schultz camp wasn’t interested in.
Schultz reps at Newport Sports planned to ask for $6.5 million in arbitration, sources tell Inside Pittsburgh Sports. The Penguins would have likely come in around $4.5 million and the arbitrator would have met in the middle.
Schultz had a great arbitration case because of his numbers and a lot of leverage. It also pays to have great agents like Schultz does in being repped by hockey’s most powerful agency.
For Schultz, he’ll still be just 29 years old when his new deal ends, another win for him if he stays on this level.
It’s a deal the Penguins are comfortable with because it’s only three years but I don’t believe Penguin officials are jumping up for joy.
Schultz is a defenseman coaches still have to shelter a bit defensively and at times during the playoffs Schultz was getting third pairing minutes at even strength and that’s without Kris Letang in the lineup.
But, puck moving defensemen who can give you a 50 point season don’t grow on trees and Kris Letang isn’t just coming back from a broken foot.
It’s a higher AAV than you’d like but it’s important the Penguins are only locked into the deal for 3 years. Too many General Managers make mistakes of giving too much term.
With the inability to do cheat deals anymore, it’s bad value giving non-core guys more than three years for a club like the Penguins. You don’t need to always pay for projected future performance.
Pittsburgh jumped the gun on going six years to Olli Maatta in 2016. It was unnecessary. That should have been a three year bridge contract in the $2 million range. In three years when a hypothetical bridge deal would have been up, would Olli Maatta really had been a $5-$5.5 million a year defenseman?
Now I think we’re starting to see the Penguins get it with the non-core players.
They wouldn’t go more than three years for Bonino which is smart business, now they get Schultz for three years.
Schultz takes a step or two back, he’s put enough on tape where the Penguins could get out of the contract via trade easily. New Jersey and Buffalo would be first in line.
More RFA Talk
— Two years away from free agency, Brian Dumoulin’s camp looks at the Penguins paying Olli Maatta $4 million per season and view their client as the better defenseman who is used in tougher situations. So it’s not a surprise they’re playing hard ball in eyeing a deal north of $4 million.
But, with arbitration cases so biased towards numbers you put up, the Penguins have leverage here if the two sides went to arbitration. I think that number would be around $3 million.
Bet on them settling before but Dumoulin’s agent Lewis Gross is a very tough negotiator and gets his clients big deals.
Conor Sheary is the more intriguing negotiation/trade chip.
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