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Analysis: The Scuderi Takeaway

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins

Updated (6:11 PM): The Penguins made two signings as the NHL’s free agency period opened, bringing back defenseman Rob Scuderi and forward Craig Adams.

Adams will serve in his normal role as a fourth-line role player/penalty killer.

But here is a look at how the addition of Scuderi will impact the Penguins now and in the future.


The numbers on this deal are: 4 and 3.375.

Scuderi gets a lengthy deal with four years. He’s already 34 years old and would be 38 at the conclusion of the agreement. That provides himself and his family a lot of security as his career winds down. It also helps the Penguins, who now have a solid defenseman locked in for the next four years.

There is always a risk at giving a lengthy contract to an older player. But Scuderi is in great shape, and has proven to be very durable throughout his career. He has appeared in 264-consecutive regular-season games dating back to Dec. 7, 2009. Who knows where Scuderi will be condition-wise at the end of the deal, but it’s a risk the Penguins were willing to take without hesitation. Otherwise, Scuderi would have signed elsewhere.

The money on the deal comes out to $13.5-million total or an average annual value of $3.375 million. Scuderi actually took a slight pay cut to rejoin the Penguins. In his previous deal with the Los Angeles Kings, Scuderi was making $3.4 million, and could likely have gotten a pay raise on the open market.

Scuderi took less money for a lengthier deal. But what really made this contract happen was Scuderi’s familiarity with the Penguins organization and their “win now” approach.


Scuderi will bring to the ice what he always brings: a steady, disciplined, stay-at-home approach. His style of play hasn’t changed in the slightest. As Scuderi said following the signing, “I’m still a plug.”

The Penguins have been trying to find a suitable replacement for Scuderi’s reliable defensive abilities since he left the team in the summer of 2009. The Penguins have an abundance of players that can score. They need more guys on the blue line that can help shut opposing teams down. Scuderi fills that need.


Scuderi joins current Penguins’ blueliners Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Kris Letang, Matt Niskanen, Deryk Engelland, Simon Despres and Robert Bortuzzo – pending Bortuzzo’s signing a new contract. The Penguins have six defensemen with veteran experience and two young blueliners.

Scuderi would be a great fit with either Letang or Despres, providing a safety net that could allow them to let their offensive wings spread. In Los Angeles Scuderi worked alongside offensively gifted blueliners Drew Doughty and Slava Voynov. Scuderi can sit back and handle the defensive responsibilities while Letang and Despres push the play ahead.


With the signing of Scuderi at $3.375 million per season, the Penguins' salary total for the 2013-14 season stands at $63,623,333, according to Cap Geek. That leaves them with $676,667 in cap space under the $64,300,000 million limit.

The Penguins currently have 12 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders signed with two qualifying offers on the table: Dustin Jeffrey and Robert Bortuzzo. If Jeffrey and Bortuzzo sign (which is likely), the Penguins will be over the cap.

NHL teams are permitted to spend up to 10 percent over the salary cap in the summer – which would be $6.4 million. So the Penguins can still sign other players to fill any holes, but MUST be under the cap by the start of the season.

So the Penguins have some room to play over the summer, but must get the house in order by October. So there will be some tough decisions for the Penguins to make over the next two months to get in compliance with the cap.


The Penguins have a plethora of high-end defensive prospects in the system. Despres and Bortuzzo made the jump to the NHL last season, and there are several that will be pushing to break through soon.

Scuderi’s signing will help the Penguins by way of not rushing those prospects to the NHL level. It allows the novice blueliners time to continue their development at the minor- and junior-league levels. However, it also means there will be less minutes for those young prospects to eat in the NHL.

That could change by the 2014-15 season. While the Penguins have eight D-men signed for this season, three of them (Orpik, Niskanen and Engelland) are entering the final year of their contracts. It is unlikely that the Penguins will re-sign all three, and their departures may open up holes for those prospects to fill.

And when those prospects do finally make it to the NHL, Scuderi is the perfect players to act as a mentor with his patience, experience and willingness to work with young players (just ask Voynov).

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