Fourth line center Joe Vitale was not close to being the Penguins marquee restricted free agent at seasons end by any meansÂ but he is the first one to receive a new extension.
Vitale this morning signed a two year, $1.1 million extension, receiving a one-way contract.Â He carries a cap hit of $550,000. He’s a player who plays Penguins type of hockey under head coachÂ Dan Bylsma, providingÂ speed, grit and hard work up front. Vitale, 26,Â hasÂ 3 goals and 10 points in 44 games this season. He is strong in the faceoff circle with a 55.9% faceoff percentage.
Â Â The Penguins are taking the same low-risk philosophy as last year when the team locked up Deryk Engelland and Mark Letestu to low risk extensions in January 2011. Vitale’s deal falls into the same category as Letestu’s last January who at the time was also on a two-way contract and got the assurance of a one-way contract with a low cap hit.
Vitale, Engelland and Letestu are all represented by agent Allain Roy.
The signing of Vitale gives the Penguins 10 forwards, 6 defensemen and 1 goaltender on one-way contracts for the 2012-2013 season.
Pittsburgh has close to $55 milllion committed to salaries for next season. The salary cap is currently $64.3 million.
Pittsburgh’s notable group of unrestricted free agents include Arron Asham, Brent Johnson and Steve Sullivan, while the team’s group of restricted free agents are highlighted by James Neal, Matt Niskanen, Cal O’Reilly,Â Brad Thiessen, Eric Tangradi, Robert Bortuzzo, Brian Strait among others.