Five of the Penguins’ top-6 players – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and James Neal – are locked up for, at least, the next four years.
But the Penguins’ bottom-6 depth took a blow with the trade of Tyler Kennedy and free agent losses of Matt Cooke and Brenden Morrow. The Penguins addressed that issue with the signing of forward Matt D’Agostini to a one-year, $550 thousand deal on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m very excited about joining a team like Pittsburgh,” D’Agostini said. “It’s an organization that’s proven itself, a team that’s constantly winning. I will do anything I can to contribute to that.”
D’Agostino, 26, has played parts of fives in the NHL with Montreal, St. Louis and New Jersey. The 6-foot, 201-pound winger can play both a physical and gritty style, but also has a scoring touch – see his 21 goals for the St. Louis Blues in 2010-11 or the two 20-goal seasons he had with Hamilton of the American Hockey League.
The Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario native can fill in on the bottom six, but if needed D’Agostini can step up into a top-6 role and add some goals.
“I’ve always thought I had the ability to score and proved it. I’ve scored in this league,” he said. “I’ll fit into any kind of role that Pittsburgh wants from me. I’m just trying to round out my game completely.
“That’s something I can bring to the table, a little versatility. If they want me to play a checking role and use my speed or I can come in and add offensively, I’m just excited about getting started.”
D’Agostini is hoping to fit into a team that has been a perennial Stanley Cup contender for the past seven seasons.
“You’re looking at a team that has already won and still has all those pieces in place,” he said. “Adding to that and contributing anyway I can is all I’m looking forward to.”
Note: The Penguins currently have spent $64,173,333 million in salary for the 2013-14 season. With a salary cap of $64,300,000, that leaves the team with $126,667 of room. However, two players – Dustin Jeffrey and Robert Bortuzzo – have been given qualifying offers by the team. So the Penguins are projected to be over the cap (the NHL allows teams to be 10 percent over the cap in the summer, as long as they’re in compliance by the start of the season).
The Penguins will have to make some moves – most likely trades – to bring themselves back under the cap.