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Penguins notebook: New contract boosts Bortuzzo

| Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, 9:51 p.m.

Robert Bortuzzo has a new contract, though he still is looking for regular work with the Penguins.

He is one of seven returning defensemen who played at least once last season, but competition for a top-six spot is stout, with five of those players slated to earn at least $2 million.

Bortuzzo, 24, and with only 21 NHL games on his resume, will battle former first-round pick Simon Despres and veteran bruiser Deryk Engelland for regular playing time, barring a trade.

He is not deterred.

“Relieved, actually,” Bortuzzo said Saturday during a players-organized workout at Consol Energy Center. “Getting the contract done was big for me. It showed they believe in me.”

The Penguins inked Bortuzzo over the summer to a two-year contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $600,000.

He is one of four current Penguins defensemen — not counting prospects — signed for beyond this season.

Despres, Engelland, Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen are in the last season of their current contracts, though the Penguins will retain Despres' rights because his is an entry-level deal.

The Penguins remain about $1.1 million over the $64.3 million salary cap, but clubs are not required to be at or under the limit until the regular season.

Camp information

Center Evgeni Malkin led a group of 11 skaters during the workout Saturday. Three goalies — including starter Marc-Andre Fleury and backup Tomas Vokoun — also participated.

All players will report to camp Wednesday for physical examinations. The first practices are Thursday at Consol Energy Center.

A practice and scrimmage will be open to the public next Saturday, with arena gates opening at 8:30 a.m.

The Penguins open their six-game slate of exhibition games at Columbus next Sunday.

Rookie tournament

The Penguins lost, 4-3, to Toronto in a shootout at the rookie tournament in London, Ontario, on Saturday night.

Defenseman Scott Harrington and forwards Jayson Megna and Tom Kuhnhackl scored for the Penguins, who opened the tournament with a loss to Ottawa on Thursday.

The Penguins' prospects will play Chicago's on Sunday.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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