The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced three new contracts for pending free agents, agreeing to terms with Dominik Simon and Daniel Sprong, while re-signing Kevin Czuczman. Sprong and Simon have agreed on identical two-year deals that will carry a cap hit of $750K per season, while Czuczman has signed a one-year two-way deal worth $650K at the NHL level.
Getting Simon and Sprong under contract for such low salaries is a huge win for the Penguins, who plan on using both of them more frequently in 2018-19. At the end of the season, GM Jim Rutherford revealed that Sprong would be a “regular” on the team going forward, something that fans have been clamoring for for some time. Sprong jumped directly to the NHL in 2015-16 for 18 games, before returning to junior and then the minor leagues. He registered three points in eight games for the Penguins in 2017-18, but could be a potential candidate for a breakout in his first full season if given a regular spot next to one of Pittsburgh’s elite centers.
Simon got a taste of what it’s like to play with those elite centers, spending time with Sidney Crosby and scoring 12 points in 33 games with the Penguins this year. The 23-year old is a capable two-way player, and is valuable depth at this cap hit. The Penguins are always looking to squeeze cheap performance out of the bottom half of their roster, given that their star players take up so much of the cap. Simon and Sprong will be given the chance to do that, while still being cheap enough to come completely off the books if sent to the minor leagues.