Given their salary cap situation, the Pittsburgh Penguins couldn’t keep everyone. On Friday evening the Pens saw their first pair of unrestricted free agents leave for other franchises.
After a productive offseason to this point that saw Penguins’ general manager Ray Shero sign Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Chris Kuntz to contract extensions, along with re-signing Pascal Dupuis and inking defensemen Rob Scuderi to a deal, there just wasn’t money available to throw to Matt Cooke and Jarome Iginla.
Cooke is heading to Minnesota after agreeing to a three-year, $7.5-million deal with the Wild. The loss of Cooke will be a tough one for the Pens, but he’s not irreplaceable.
After toning down his on ice behavior somewhat, Cooke turned out to be a pretty productive player for the Penguins, recording 21 points in 48 games with the Penguins last year. Cooke was an energy guy and his work on the penalty kill could be missed, but $2.5 million annually for an agitator is something Shero and the Penguins couldn’t do.
Despite turning down a potential trade to the Boston Bruins at the deadline, Iginla will be donning a Bruins sweater nonetheless after agreeing to a one-year deal worth $6 million with the Bruins.
Iginla’s base salary is reportedly $1.6 million but there are plenty of reachable incentives built into his contract that could push it up to the $6 million range.
The 16-year veteran put up 33 points in 44 regular season games last year, and 11 of those came in 13 games as a Penguin. He also had a pretty productive postseason recording 12 points in 15 postseason games.
While Iginla’s loss may be felt in terms of scoring, it was something the Penguins expected as he was thought to be a rental player when they made the move to acquire him.