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Matt Hunwick signs three-year contract with Penguins

Defenseman to receive $2.25 million annually; goalie Antti Niemi also to Pittsburgh

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Defenseman Matt Hunwick signed a three-year, $6.75 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. The contract has an average annual value of $2.25 million.

"Part of it had to do with the caliber of team they have, the championship window that they're in right now," Hunwick told the Penguins website. "Part of it was the opportunity that I have in terms of playing close in proximity to where I live. There's a lot of things that go into making a decision like this, and certainly you have to think about your family when you have a wife and a son and a dog and those kinds of things. You kind of couple everything together and if you have a chance to be on a really good team, it was just a no-brainer for me."

Hunwick, 32, joins the Penguins after serving as an alternate captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs the past two seasons. He had 19 points (goal, 18 assists) and a plus-8 rating in 72 regular-season games, and averaged 25:38 of ice time in six Stanley Cup Playoff games.

"I think watching Pittsburgh throughout the [Stanley Cup Playoffs] the last couple years, they certainly have that in their game where they like to get the puck up to the forwards," Hunwick said. "That's certainly the strength of the club. So I hope to bring that element of my game and hopefully it transitions well."

Selected by the Boston Bruins in the seventh round (No. 224) of the 2004 NHL Draft, Hunwick has 107 points (21 goals, 86 assists) in 479 regular-season games with the Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Maple Leafs.

Hunwick was fourth on the Maple Leafs last season with 2:40 of shorthanded ice time per game. Toronto finished the regular season ranked 10th in penalty killing percentage (82.5%).

"It's a role I grew into and really enjoyed doing that," Hunwick said. "I haven't played power play in a few years. The penalty kill is something I looked to and really wanted to be good at. It was kind of a role I helped create for myself in Toronto and I'd love to be able to do that in Pittsburgh. I have no idea what will happen, but that's certainly something I've done in the past and would love to do it there."

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