As always, Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column for Sportsnet has plenty of interesting hockey nuggets spanning the entire league. Most important to Pittsburgh Penguins fans however might be the fact that an extension with Marcus Pettersson is “all but done.” Pettersson, because he signed a one-year deal last month, isn’t techincally able to sign an extension until January 1st, but the two sides can still agree to terms.
The 23-year old defenseman has had a very strong start to the season, continuing the play he showed after being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks last year. Stepping into a bigger role for Pittsburgh he is now averaging close to 19 minutes a night on the season and trails only Kris Letang and Justin Schultz in terms of points from Penguins defensemen.
Snatched out of Anaheim in exchange for Daniel Sprong—who cleared waivers at the beginning of the month and is playing in the minor leagues—Pettersson looks like an absolute steal by GM Jim Rutherford. He’ll be a restricted free agent at the end of the year and will be arbitration eligible for the first time, but is starting to look like a core piece for the team.
Interestingly, Friedman also writes that the Penguins are going to add another piece at some point. The team recently rid themselves of Erik Gudbranson—another addition that didn’t work out quite as well as Pettersson—and now actually have a little bit of flexibility in terms of their cap structure. While defense may be a target, Pettersson has worked his way into their plans for the future and should have a new contract in a few months.