After what was arguably his best season ever in the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins have reportedly rewarded forward Chris Kunitz with a three-year contract extension Thursday – according to the Pens’ website.
His contract is set to expire following the 2016-17 season and he will earn an average of $3.85 million per year.
Finishing tied for seventh in scoring with 52 points throughout the entire NHL during the regular-season, Kunitz led the team in goals with 22 and skated to an eye-popping plus-30 rating — which was good for second in the NHL.
Since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks during the 2008-09 campaign for one-time Penguin’ Ryan Whitney, Kunitz has flourished in his role as a top-line winger.
Registering 211 points (91G, 120A) in 266 regular-season contests and 42 points (13G, 29A) in 63 playoff games, number-14 is another perfect example of how keen the scouting department is up in the Pens front office.
Helping Pittsburgh capture the Stanley Cup in 2009, Kunitz is probably one of the more undervalued players the Pens have because of the superstar names the team possesses.
And now with Kunitz signing on for another three years, he will have a chance to make a bigger name for himself in the coming seasons.
The question now becomes — what will this mean for the other unrestricted free agents Pittsburgh has?
Or to be more specific — what will this deal mean for forward Pascal Dupuis?
After reports suggested Dupuis was on his way to receiving a new contract, the team decided to ink Kunitz before they locked up number-9.
Arriving in Pittsburgh during the 2007-08 season, Dupuis has proved to be the more valuable piece to the Marian Hossa trade — who was suppose to be the mainstay.
Between the regular-season and playoffs, Dupuis has played a total of 455 games and recorded 245 points (108G, 137A) with Pittsburgh.
This past year, Dupuis led the entire NHL with a plus-31 rating and topped all Pens players’ with 29 takeaways during the regular-season.
He wants to remain a Penguin’, so we’ll have to see how General Manager Ray Shero handles his situation in the upcoming days.
Stay tuned for updates on all the Pens unrestricted free agents as well.