After acquiring him recently from the Edmonton Oilers, John Marino has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Marino has decided not to return to Harvard for his senior season. Penguins GM Jim Rutherford released a short statement:
Adding a young defenseman like John to our organization will be very helpful. His development was accelerated last year and he became a top-10 defenseman in college hockey, giving himself a chance to play at the NHL level.
The Penguins will now send Edmonton a 2021 sixth-round pick to complete the trade. Marino could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer if he chose to return to the NCAA for his senior season. PuckPedia reported the details of the contract, tweeting that Marino can earn up to $850K in performance bonuses.
Selected in the sixth round back in 2015, Marino developed into one of the core leaders at Harvard and was set to wear the captain’s “C” this season. He’ll now jump right into the professional level and compete for a spot on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins blueline—provided the team doesn’t make subsequent moves to open up a spot in the NHL right away. The 22-year old has plenty of time to become acclimated to the professional level before being thrust into the spotlight, but he does give the team another option to consider when deciding whether or not to extend Justin Schultz. The 29-year old Schultz is heading into the final year of his current contract and will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020.
Marino recorded 42 points in 101 games at the NCAA level and has a good mix of size and skating ability. He shouldn’t be limited by either at the next level, though his real upside is still to be determined. The Penguins have mined the collegiate ranks for years to boost their organizational depth and Marino is just the latest to be given a chance.