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Penguins Add Ball of Energy Lizotte From Kings

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Pittsburgh Penguins free agent signing Blake Lizotte

CRANBERRY — The whirlwind of depth signings and unheralded players continued Monday afternoon. As Pittsburgh Penguins president of hockey operations/GM began his press conference, he casually dropped the news the Penguins signed Blake Lizotte.

No biggie. Literally.

Lizotte, 26, is one of the smaller players in the NHL at 5-foot-7, 172 pounds. However, what he lacks in size, he generally makes up for with energy and tenacity. Lizotte is a superior skater who has flourished in the LA Kings’ structured systems. Dubas announced the Penguins signed him to a two-year deal worth $1.85 million per season.

Update: Dubas said $1.8 million, but the Penguins press release later clarified it’s $1.85 million.

The short version is that Lizotte is a scrappy bottom-six center. He had a down year last season, scoring just eight goals and 15 points and winning only 46% of his faceoffs. These were all down from his career norms, and he saw the lowest average ice time at just 11:49 per game.

In 2022-23, Lizotte set career highs with 23 assists and 34 points and won 51.2% of his draws while playing nearly 13 minutes.

Correction: The original version listed 23 goals instead of a career-high 23 assists.

The signing represents a bit of a steal for Dubas. LA did not tender a qualifying offer to Lizotte because it feared losing an arbitration case. So, Dubas was able to quickly sign a player with good speed, energy, defensive responsibility, and a bit of offense.

The move also represents a jam-packed roster, with Kevin Hayes joining the club in the fall and a few young players ready to fight for spots. Lizotte’s cap hit suggests he’s expected to be in the lineup when the Penguins open the season on Oct. 9 against the New York Rangers at PPG Paints Arena.

Size was not necessarily a deciding factor for Dubas on Monday. The Penguins also signed two defensemen, Matt Grzelcyk and Mac Hollowell, who are listed at 5-foot-9.

Lizotte is not related to former Penguins draft pick and minor league player Jon Lizotte.