Dustin Jeffrey Re-Signs with Pittsburgh Penguins, Continues Trend

James ConleyContributor IIIJuly 12, 2011

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 26:  Dustin Jeffrey #42 of the Pittsburgh Penguins warms up before playing the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on December 26, 2008 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

General Manager Ray Shero and the Pittsburgh Penguins signed forward Dustin Jeffrey to a two-year deal Tuesday afternoon, one that will pay the emerging scorer $575,000 at the NHL level.

Jeffrey, a 23-year-old prospect who broke into the NHL spotlight last season, led the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins with 45 points (17 goals, 28 assists) in 40 games last season before being called up to Pittsburgh for good.

With the big club, Jeffrey added seven goals and five assists in 25 games while playing mostly center and logging some time on the power play.

A March 24 knee injury that required surgery took him out for the remainder of the season, and his recovery is expected to keep him out of training camp and the early parts of the NHL season.

The Penguins won't be forced to rush him back. The first of Jeffrey's two-year deal is a two-way contract, meaning the Pens can send him back to the AHL without the need to clear waivers. His deal becomes a one-way contract in the 2012-13 season.

The signing is trademark Shero.

Jeffrey is the ninth player to sign or re-sign with the Penguins this season. Craig Adams, Pascal Dupuis, Arron Asham, Tyler Kennedy and AHL goaltender Brad Thiessen have also re-signed with the Penguins this season, while F Steve Sullivan, D Alexandre Picard and D Boris Valabik signed as free agents.

F Steve MacIntyre signed with the Pens just after the publication of this piece. His two-way, one-year deal pays $600,000 at the NHL level.

In an offseason where marathon-term contracts and bagfuls of cash have been thrown to any player who can catch them, Shero and Pittsburgh have maintained their slow, measured approach to handing out deals.

No player signed this offseason received a deal of at least three years. Of the group, only Adams, Kennedy, Dupuis, Jeffrey and Thiessen received two-year deals.

The pursuit of longer deals and more money cost Max Talbot, Mike Rupp and Jaromir Jagr a chance to play with Pittsburgh, who currently hold Vegas' second-best projected odds to win the 2012 Stanley Cup.

As for Jeffrey, the former sixth-round pick (2007) is one of a number of young forward prospects who the Penguins have high hopes for. Trade acquisition Eric Tangradi is also expected to make the full-time leap to the NHL this season.

Like Jeffrey, Tangradi was seeing regular playing time with Pittsburgh late last season before a significant injury (concussion) knocked him out of the picture. Tangradi, 22, was acquired in the deal that sent D Ryan Whitney to Anaheim and also brought forward Chris Kunitz to Pittsburgh.

There have been whispers that Bill Guerin, the new Penguins player development coach, has been working closely with Tangradi at Pittsburgh's prospect development camp, which ends this weekend. Guerin was a big body, physical player who could make hay in front of the net, among other players.

Tangradi is projected to be the net-front guy the Penguins have lacked since Ryan Malone departed for Tampa Bay. Guerin's tutelage may help Tangradi finally get over the NHL hump and earn a permanent spot on the Pittsburgh roster.

Along with Jeffrey and Tangradi, the Penguins hope prospects Joe Vitale, Keven Veilleux, Brad Thiessen, Simon Despres and Nick Johnson will make good impressions at the prospect camp.

For more Penguins news, check out James' work at Slew Footers, or yell at him in a public forum @slewfooters.