The Pittsburgh Penguins knocked one item off their to-do list Tuesday morning when they signed restricted free agent Teddy Blueger to a two-year contract worth $750,000 per season according to General Manager Jim Rutherford.
The contract is a one-way, NHL contract.
Blueger, 24, played in 28 games last season and scored 10 points (6g, 4a). The Penguins 2012 second-round pick was a rookie after spending nearly three seasons in the AHL. Blueger averaged just over 11 minutes of ice time and was a plus-7. When the Penguins were healthy, their depth pushed Blueger to the wing, though he is a natural center.
“Teddy is a perfect role model for younger players coming into the league,” Assistant GM Bill Guerin told the team media. “He came to us with great expectations, and he’s worked hard to meet each one. He has great hockey sense, he loves to compete and he’s a true professional.”
Blueger played in parts of four AHL seasons and 179 career games in the minors. He scored 49 goals for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but he doesn’t figure to return to that level.
On July 1, Rutherford praised Blueger as “Of course, Blueger has established himself as a regular NHL player.”
Last week, Penguins fourth-line center Matt Cullen retired after 21 seasons, which leaves a void Blueger figures to fill. Blueger is 6-foot, 185 pounds and has mainly played pivot with aggressive speed and energy.
The Penguins have emphasized youth in recent moves. Only three of the Penguins expected top-12 forwards are over 27-years old. Blueger did fill in on the Penguins second line with Phil Kessel during Evgeni Malkin’s injury absence in March.
Blueger made his NHL debut on Jan. 30 and scored a goal in the following game, which was also his first NHL shot.
The Penguins have two RFAs remaining: Marcus Pettersson and Zach Aston-Reese. The latter has an arbitration hearing scheduled for July 22. The Penguins realistically have about $1.5 million of salary cap remaining as they are likely to send one of Zach Trotman, Chad Ruhwedel or Juuso Riikola to the AHL roster.