The Pittsburgh Penguins continue to lock in their core of young players. The team already has Sidney Crosby
, Evgeni Malkin
, Marc-Andre Fleury
, Jordan Staal
, Tyler Kennedy
and Maxime Talbot locked into mulit-year deals.
Now the Penguins locked up defenseman Alex Goligoski with a new three-year contract
after the 23-year-old inked a deal with the team on Wednesday.
“I wanted to stay a Penguin for a long time,” Goligoski said. “The way they treat you here and with this group of guys here, I think we can be a contender every year. I want to be a winner so it was an easy decision. I’m glad we were able to get (the contract) done early. It’s just really exciting right now.”
It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for Goligoski, who signed his contract just five days after the Penguins won their third Stanley Cup championship.
“This last two weeks has been unbelievable,” Goligoski said. “It feels awesome. It’s a really cool experience (winning the Cup). It’s something I was able to go through and it’s a surreal thing. You dream about it growing up and for it to happen is a really cool thing.”
Goligoski, who was the third-leading scorer among NHL rookie defensemen in 2008-09 with 20 points on six goals and 14 assists in just 45 games, is a smooth skating, offensively gifted blueliner, and the Penguins brass is thrilled that he’ll be in a Pittsburgh uniform for the next couple of seasons.
“Alex is a skilled young defenseman and a tremendous skater, and we are pleased to sign him to a multi-year deal as we continue to build our young core,” general manager Ray Shero said. “He gained some valuable experience this season and made contributions to our Stanley Cup run. He is another example of a great future here in Pittsburgh.”
Goligoski, who appeared in two games in the Stanley Cup playoffs, recording one assist, earned a roster spot at the start of the season and his play impressed his teammates, coaches and the front office. However, a logjam at the defensive position forced the Penguins to send the promising defenseman to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League to continue his development.
The 5-11, 180-pound native of Grand Rapids, MN played 26 games for the Baby Penguins, registering two goals and 16 assists for 18 points.
With his contract out of the way, Goligoski can concentrate on his summer program in preparation for next season. He knows he still has to earn his way onto the Penguins’ roster.
“I’m having a good summer with training and working on certain things,” he said. “I’m getting ready to go when training camp starts. I’m not taking anything for granted but I feel good to get the contract done with and moving on, concentrating on trying to be a really good player for the Pittsburgh Penguins next year.”
Goligoski was the Penguins’ second-round pick (61st overall) in 2004 and made his NHL debut in 2007-08, playing three games for the Penguins and picking up two assists. In the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs, he set an AHL record for points in a playoff season by a defenseman with 28 and ranked second overall in AHL playoff scoring.
Goligoski was a standout for three seasons at the University of Minnesota, and was named First-Team All-America, First-Team All-WCHA and WCHA Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in 2006-07.