Jim Rutherford’s comments last month that singled out defenseman Justin Schultz certainly made it seem like the Penguins would be walking away from the pending UFA next season. He put any possibility of a reunion to rest recently, confirming to Mike DeFabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that they won’t bring the veteran back:
We’ll move on from Justin. He’s going to do better in the marketplace than what he can do here, based on our cap situation.
Schultz was quite productive in his first full season with the Penguins when he had 51 points in 78 games but he has had trouble staying healthy since then, suiting up in just 75 games over the last two seasons combined. His production has tapered off in that time while he struggled defensively as well. A change of scenery could certainly do the 30-year-old some good although he’ll certainly be looking at a big dip in pay from the $5.5MM cap hit he had this season.
More from the Eastern Conference:
- The Blue Jackets will be parting ways with assistant coach Paul MacLean, reports Aaron Portzline of The Athletic (subscription required). He joined Columbus partway through this season with the hopes that he’d be able to help their power play. However, losing several of their top forwards proved to be too much to overcome; while the team was slightly better with the man advantage after he joined them midseason, the gain was only incremental from 15.6% to 16.8% and overall, they finished in the bottom five in the league. Things weren’t any better in the playoffs as their power play limped to just an 8.8% success rate.
- Bruins winger David Pastrnak played through the postseason with a lingering lower-body injury that also played a role in his limited participation during training camp, relays NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty. Despite the injury, he was still productive in their series loss to Tampa Bay, picking up two goals and four assists in the five games. Head coach Bruce Cassidy indicated that he doesn’t believe that Pastrnak, or any of Boston’s other players that are banged up, will need surgery.