Scratch another offseason to-do item off General Manager Jim Rutherford’s list. On Friday afternoon, the GM announced the Penguins signed RFA forward Jared McCann to a new two-year deal worth an average of $2.94 million per season.
McCann’s name has recently appeared in Penguins trade speculation. After the Penguins dealt center Nick Bjugstad to Minnesota in a cost-cutting move, McCann is currently the most obvious choice to fill the Penguins third-line center role, though he could remain a winger.
“Jared is a good offensive player who can play center or wing,” said Rutherford. “We saw improvement in his play this year and feel that there is more upside to his game.”
McCann, 24, was a restricted free agent and made just $1.25 million this season. The Penguins acquired him and Bjugstad from the Florida Panthers for Riley Sheahan, Derrick Brassard, and draft picks on Feb. 1, 2018. Since the deal happened only a few hours before game time, McCann and Bjugstad famously received a police escort from the airport to the arena and didn’t reach the ice until the National Anthem of their first game.
McCann scored 35 points in each of the past two seasons, though he was limited to only 14 goals this season by the pandemic pause. He did set a career-high with 21 assists. The 35-points remains a career-high for the player selected in the first round (24th overall) by Vancouver Canucks in 2014.
The 6-foot-1, 185-pound forward played in just three postseason games during the Penguins Qualifying Round series loss to the Montreal Canadiens. McCann had one assist and was a healthy scratch in Game 3, but returned for the deciding Game 4.
After signing McCann, the Penguins have approximately $6 million remaining to sign RFAs Tristan Jarry, Sam Lafferty, and potentially Dominik Simon, as well as address the third-pairing defense situation and leave a little room for emergency purposes.
McCann’s salary fits neatly with the salary projections by Pittsburgh Hockey Now, last month.