PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — After the Kessel trade, the Penguins had the money to make one moderate move as free agency opened Monday afternoon.
The team signed former Winnipeg Jets Forward Brandon Tanev to a six year deal worth $21 million. Tanev is projected to be a solid player in the Pens’ bottom six, and General Manager Jim Rutherford was pretty happy to land a player like him, as he fits the bill of players Rutherford said the team lacked in 2018-19. Rutherford spoke with the media Monday afternoon in Cranberry.
“The signing of Tanev was really good for us,” Rutherford said. “Everyone in the organization thinks really highly of him. He’s a really good skater, a good penalty killer. He is a guy that makes the team harder to play against.”
“The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with forward Brandon Tanev on a six-year contract. The deal will run through the 2024.25 campaign and carries an average annual value of $3.5 million.”
Adding Tanev into the mix with the return from the Kessel trade over the weekend, gives this team a new identity. One that Rutherford says makes this squad stronger moving forward.
“It’s a new excitement, a new energy. The three new guys that we brought in were so excited it was coming thru the phone. They’ll bring that to training camp and practice throughout the year. We’ve changed the makeup of our team. Now it’s training camp and a time for the coach to work hard and bring it all together. The group of forwards we’ve added gives us depth and more balance to get back to where we were in 16 and 17 to roll those lines.”
Rutherford said there could be a couple of depth signings later in the day to cap things off, but another move is almost guaranteed to get the team under the salary cap before the season begins.
“#Pens GMJR: “There’s a good chance we’ll have to make another move” given the Penguins’ cap situation and the players they still need to sign.”
Rutherford said he is comfortable with his defensive corps, while saying an extension for head coach Mike Sullivan is still up in the air at the moment.
“Jim Rutherford on the Penguins’ defense: “I like the way our defense is structured. We have the right and left shots where they should be. Can we make it better? Sure. You can always make it better… At this point in time, I’m comfortable with our defense.”
“Jim Rutherford on a potential contract extension for Coach Sullivan: “Up until this point, my focus has been to change some of the players. Personally, I feel that Mike is a terrific coach. He has good communication with the players. I would like to see him stay long term.”