Defenseman Justin Schultz and the Pittsburgh Penguins have begun talks on a long-term contract, his agent told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday.
"It's early," Wade Arnott told the newspaper. "But we've had some good, positive discussions."
Schultz, 26, can become a restricted free agent July 1. Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Schultz received a qualifying offer of $1.4 million from the Penguins.
"We will not be signing the qualifying offer," Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "You saw what he did this year. The practical answer is it's a non-issue."
Schultz was tied for seventh among NHL defensemen with 51 points (12 goals, 39 assists) in 78 games this season. He was 10th in voting for the Norris Trophy and had an NHL career-high 20 power-play points (three goals, 17 assists).
"There's no hidden fact he'd like to be in Pittsburgh," Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He's a restricted free agent so it's not like he has a choice. Come July 1, all unsigned players are free to listen to other teams too."
Video: WSH@PIT, Gm4: Schultz drills PPG past Holtby
Schultz had 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 21 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help Pittsburgh win the Stanley Cup for a second straight season. He had signed a one-year, $1.4 million contract July 13.
"We took a one-year, discounted deal to come back from last year and build upon what he did," Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "The player took a lot of the risk. The player performed. Now the player should be rewarded."
The Penguins' top defenseman, Kris Letang, missed the playoffs after having neck surgery. Schultz replaced Letang on the first power-play unit and would provide insurance if Letang's injury persists.
"It starts with winning," Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Any player wired the right way should be about winning at that level. I think he really enjoys the players, the core group on the team, and he really enjoys the coaching staff and the development model."
Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins, who also had 51 points during the regular season, signed a four-year, $21 million contract with an average annual value of $5.25 million on June 30, according to CapFriendly.com.
"We'll probably have some more direction here this week with where we're going with [a contract with the Penguins]," Arnott told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "But we've had some good discussions."