Oct 13, 2011, 11:52 AM EST
People strain to find “turning points,” but the Pittsburgh Penguins really seemed to pivot when they added Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz around the 2009 trade deadline. He might not be blessed with the greatest finishing ability for a top-six forward, but Kunitz is a fantastic fit for the Penguins’ system.
The team decided to show how true that is by handing him a two-year contract extension today. The full deal is worth $7.45 million, which works out to $3.725 million per year – the exact salary cap hit he’s currently registering.
Kunitz might not be a household name, but he’s a ferocious forechecker whose high-effort game works well with frequent linemate Sidney Crosby. His numbers are suffering a bit without the Penguins superstar – Kunitz has one point in four games this season – but he’s the poster child for Dan Bylsma’s North-South philosophies.
To some, Kunitz will always provide a compelling counterpoint to the guy he was traded for: Ryan Whitney. While Whitney has more offensive gifts – even as a blueliner – Kunitz creates mistakes instead of making them.
Here’s an interesting thing to chew on: as of this moment, Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin now hold the longest-running contracts for any Penguins forwards, as their deals run out after the 2013-14 season. Kunitz is clearly part of “the plan” in Pittsburgh.
- Wild coach accuses Sharks of embellishment 0
- Lundqvist hooked after three first-period goals as Rangers’ woes continue 20
- Burke wants the Flames to be — yep, you guessed it — more ‘truculent’ 40
- Flames fire GM Jay Feaster 36
- Video: Projected rise in salary cap could have some players ‘licking their lips’ 19
- Discuss: Blackhawks score big on Rivalry Night on NBCSN 37
- Crosby: If I had to guess Thornton’s suspension, I’d say 10 games 83
- Cowen gets two-game suspension for hit on Girgensons 12
- Rangers must consider Callahan’s injury history in contract talks 13
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: Outrage over hockey violence, Gary Bettman is a happy man, Darryl Sutter is awesome, and more! 33
- Video: Penguins’ Orpik stretchered off ice; Bruins’ Thornton given match penalty (184)
- Neal suspended five games for kneeing Marchand in the head (156)
- Bruins coach admits Thornton crossed the line, slams Pens for not being ‘truthful’ (138)
- Pens put Orpik on IR (132)
- Orpik suffers from concussion, including memory loss (118)