The Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with forward Chris Kunitz on a three-year contract extension worth $3.85M per season.
Kunitz was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on April 1, 2003. He split his professional rookie season between Anaheim and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks. After spending the 2004–05 NHL lockout with Cincinnati, he was picked up on waivers by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2005–06. Two weeks later, however, he was re-claimed off waivers by the Ducks and went on to play 67 games with them, scoring 19 goals and adding 22 assists for 41 points, surpassing Paul Kariya’s club record 39-point rookie season in 1994–95. During the 2006–07 NHL season, Kunitz improved to 25 goals and 60 points. He went on to help the Ducks advance through the playoffs, past the Minnesota Wild, Vancouver Canucks, and Detroit Red Wings, en route to a Finals victory against the Ottawa Senators to capture both his and the franchise’s first Stanley Cup championship.
Kunitz’s production dipped to 50 points during the 2007-2008 season and in the midst of another slow season in 2008–09, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins along with prospect Eric Tangradi for defenseman Ryan Whitney. The move was also precipitated by a need for secondary scoring on the Penguins behind Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. During the 2009 playoffs, he recorded 1 goal and 13 assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup against the Detroit Red Wings. Kunitz had a great season with the Penguins this season, leading the team in both goals with 22 and finishing second behind Sidney Crosby in points, with 52.
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