The Pittsburgh Penguins and GM Ron Hextall added a few more goals to the lineup on Wednesday afternoon. In a mildly surprising move, the Penguins re-signed winger Danton Heinen to a one-year contract for $1 million.
Heinen made more money last season on his show-me deal. The Penguins signed him to a bargain $1.1 million contract last season.
Heinen, 27, was one of the healthiest and more consistent Penguins scorers. He netted 18 goals and 33 points in 76 games. He also had three goals in the Penguins’ Round One loss to the New York Rangers.
His 18 goals were a single-season career high, and his three power-play goals tied his career best set in 2019-20. Fifteen of Heinen’s 18 goals were at even strength. He trailed only Jake Guentzel (33) and Sidney Crosby (23) for most on the Penguins.
Heinen’s contract puts the Penguins about $1.4 million over the cap (according to CapFriendly.com) with 14 forwards and eight defensemen (assuming Ty Smith or P.O Joseph will be sent to the AHL’s WBS Penguins).
The Pittsburgh Penguins could demote forward Drew O’Connor to WBS without exposing him to waivers, but one more player would need to be sent to the AHL. After O’Connor and Smith, the Penguins do not have additional players who are exempt.
PuckPedia.com puts the Penguins about $780,000 over the salary cap with 13 forwards and eight defensemen.
They would likely lose any of the players exposed to waivers.
Necessarily, they must shed at least one more salary before opening night. Whether it’s waivers or a Penguins trade remains to be seen.
Update: Sportsnet writer Ken Wiebe reports Heinen turned down more money from other teams, including the Winnipeg Jets, to play for the Penguins. Heinen liked the fit and was comfortable in Pittsburgh.
The #NHLJets were one of several teams to make a more lucrative offer to UFA F Danton Heinen before he chose to return to the #Pens For Heinen, the decision was ultimately about enjoying and appreciating the situation in Pittsburgh and chasing a Stanley Cup there.
— Ken Wiebe (@WiebesWorld) July 27, 2022