The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed defenseman Justin Schultz to a three-year contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
The deal runs through the 2019-20 campaign, and it carries an average annual value of $5.5 million.
"Justin plays a very important role for our team," Rutherford said. "It's very good to know that he will be returning to us for the next three years."
Schultz, 26, was a key catalyst in Pittsburgh's second-straight Stanley Cup win, providing a huge boost to an injury-ravaged defensive group by producing a career year. He ended the regular season tied for seventh among all NHL defensemen with a personal-best 51 points (12G-39A) and a plus-27 in 78 games. His plus-minus total was sixth-best among NHL blueliners, while his offensive numbers represented career highs across the board.
Schultz emerged as an offensive force during the month of December, when he led all NHL defensemen with six goals and 18 points, becoming the first Pittsburgh D-man since Sergei Zubov in March of 1996 to collect at least 17 points in a calendar month. Only teammates Evgeni Malkin (21 points) and Sidney Crosby (20 points) had more points among all NHL players in December.
The 6-foot-2, 193-pound Schultz continued his stellar play right into the postseason, when his 13 points (4G-9A) in 21 contests led the team and placed third (tied) among all league blueliners. His two game-winning goals and seven power-play points led all defenders in the postseason. Schultz opened the scoring in the Pens' pivotal 6-0 victory in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Three nights later, Patric Hornqvist scored the Cup-clinching goal by banking a Schultz shot that had missed the cage into the net for the winning marker in the decisive Game 6.
Pittsburgh acquired the Kelowna, British Columbia native from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for a 2016 third-round draft pick in February of 2016. Since migrating east to Pittsburgh, Schultz has totaled 59 points (13G-46A) in 96 regular-season games, and has added 17 points (4G-13A) in 36 postseason games.
Schultz has skated in 344 career NHL games with Pittsburgh and Edmonton, scoring 41 goals, 119 assists and 160 points. He made the NHL's All-Rookie Team with the Oilers in 2012-13.
Schultz was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the second-round (43rd overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft. He elected to not sign with the Ducks, and instead joined the Oilers as a free agent after a four-year collegiate career at Wisconsin.