On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced a five-year contract extension worth just over $4 million annually with defenseman Marcus Pettersson. The 23-year-old was a pending restricted free agent making just under $875,000 this season. The new deal also includes a modified no-trade clause in the 2023-24 and 2024-25 campaigns.
Since being acquired from the Anaheim Ducks last season, Pettersson has been a key contributor to the Penguins blue line. This season, in particular, he’s taken on a much bigger role given the team’s injury troubles and he’s done well with the increased workload.
Pettersson Bet on Himself and Won
After finishing 10th in Calder Trophy voting last season, Pettersson entered the 2019 offseason as a restricted free agent. The Penguins were tight against the cap space and had little room to navigate through free agency, especially with Erik Gudbranson’s $4 million cap hit on the books. Oddly enough, it was the Ducks that needed a blueliner this season and took Gudbranson off the Penguins’ hands.
Pettersson agreed to a one-year deal worth roughly $875,000 when he had already proven to be worth more so the Penguins could remain competitive. However, he’s increased his value even more this season, and general manager Jim Rutherford rewarded him for his loyalty.
Pettersson has tallied a goal and 15 points in 50 games this season, giving him 0.3 points per game, nearly identical to his production last season. His Corsi-For percentage (CF%) this season is 52.3 at 5-on-5 play, compared to 51.4 during the 2018-19 season.
Part of Pettersson’s value comes from his flexibility. This season, he’s spent at least 50 minutes on ice during 5-on-5 play with four different defensive partners: Justin Schultz, John Marino, Chad Ruhwedel, and Zach Trotman. With each of those four partners, he’s registered a CF% of over 50 percent and an expected-goals for percentage (xGF%) over 50 percent with three of them.
Perhaps the most important factor with Pettersson is simply the fact that he’s been on the ice. Since coming over from Anaheim last season, the Swedish blueliner hasn’t missed a single game — regular season or postseason — for the Penguins. Given the ridiculous amount of injuries the team has dealt with this season, Pettersson’s presence has been invaluable.
Penguins get Solid Value With Extension
At first glance, the roughly $4.025 million AAV for Pettersson may seem a bit high, but it makes sense for an established top-four defenseman, especially one as young as him. The 23-year-old Swede will still be under 30 years old by the time this new contract expires.
The most similar contract to Pettersson’s is another 23-year-old Swede, Rasmus Andersson of the Calgary Flames. That deal, a six-year, $4.55 million AAV pact, was signed earlier this month. The two are fairly comparable players — Andersson is more active on offense while Pettersson plays a stronger 200-foot game — and Pettersson was locked up for over $500,000 less per season.
Pettersson is now locked up through the 2024-25 campaign; no other Penguins defenseman is under contract beyond the 2022-23 season. This move shows that the team is confident in the 6-foot-3 blueliner’s ability to be a top-four defenseman on this team for the next five-plus year and potentially be the leader of the defensive group by then.
With a cap hit percentage under five percent of the league’s current salary cap, Pettersson’s new contract looks to be a solid signing for the Penguins while also getting the young defenseman a nice payday. Even better news for him, he’ll be a free agent again before he turns 30, potentially landing him another sizable contract.