The Pittsburgh Penguins were not expected to be major players in free agency, but have apparently fallen in love with one particular two-way forward. TSN’s Darren Dreger initially reported the deal, and the Penguins have now confirmed the signing of Brandon Tanev to a six-year contract with a $3.5MM AAV.
That’s a significant commitment to a player who made just $1.15MM last season and whose best season was 14 goals and 29 points, but the 27-year-old provides more than offense on the ice as Tanev finished with a career-high in hits with 278. That physicality, to go with the ability to show some offense and the fact that Tanev continues to improve every year suggests that Pittsburgh believes that his best years are still to come. The hope is that Tanev can provide the team with an energy booster in the bottom-six, but who can also help those lines add some offense.
Pittsburgh likely wouldn’t have been able to make a deal like that work, but general manager Jim Rutherford freed up quite a bit of cap room in the last week by trading off defenseman Olli Maatta as well as finding a trade partner for Phil Kessel and his $8MM salary.
The Jets were thrilled with the 27-year-old’s play, but with Tanev having received quite a bit of attention on the open market, Winnipeg realized early on that they wouldn’t have enough money to keep him in the fold considering the team would already be up against the cap once the team re-signs some of their core, including Patrik Laine, Kyle Connor and Neal Pionk.