Teddy Blueger was eligible for salary arbitration but didn’t file when the deadline came and went earlier this month, but he hasn’t had to wait long for some future certainty. The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed Blueger to a one-year two-way contract worth $650K at the NHL level according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports. Blueger will still be a restricted free agent when this deal expires in 2019.
Selected in the second round six years ago, Blueger has still yet to make his NHL debut. After four successful seasons in the NCAA, he jumped to the AHL where again he produced at a relatively good pace. Still, a team that has been desperate to find valuable, cheap, offensive players over the last few years hasn’t given him a chance at the highest level, instead bypassing him for other players like Dominik Simon and Zach Aston-Reese. That isn’t a good sign for his NHL future, given that Blueger will turn 24 this summer and hasn’t even received a sniff so far.
It’s not like Blueger hasn’t been able to show what he can do. A veteran at the international level already, the 23-year old forward competed in three World Junior tournaments for Latvia and has now represented his birth country at back-to-back World Championships. He’s still waiver-exempt, meaning that he could be used as an injury replacement this season, popping up and down without risk of being claimed by another team. But the Penguins have more than enough centers already given their signing of Matt Cullen and will be likely promoting winger Daniel Sprong full-time despite his struggles to crack the lineup. Blueger doesn’t have a clear path to the league, but with the Penguins every young player has to be ready as even a small chance can result in playing time with some of the best in the world.