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With Spaling locked up, Penguins turn attention to signing Sutter

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury makes a second-period save on the Predators' Nick Spaling on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013, at Consol Energy Center.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Josh Yohe
Thursday, July 31, 2014, 10:27 a.m.
 

The Penguins are almost out of salary cap space with an important free agent still unsigned.

General manager Jim Rutherford isn't concerned.

Rutherford agreed to terms with restricted free agent Nick Spaling on a two-year, $4.4 million contract Thursday. Spaling's presumed linemate — center Brandon Sutter, a restricted free agent — remains unsigned, but Rutherford believes a deal will be completed soon.

“The process is moving in the right direction with Brandon,” Rutherford said. “In the very near future, we'll be able to get a deal done.”

The Penguins have approximately $4.2 million of salary cap room remaining.

Rutherford is confident Sutter wants to play for the Penguins this season and into the future.

“I've never had any indication from him that he doesn't want to,” Rutherford said.

The Penguins would prefer to give Sutter a long-term contract because he is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He would possibly become a hot commodity on the open market, something the Penguins would prefer to prevent.

“It has to be something that makes sense for both sides,” Rutherford said. “He's one year away from being unrestricted, so when you're in these situations, it can get a little more difficult for both sides to work things out. I feel pretty confident we will get something done.”

Rutherford isn't concerned about the salary cap space remaining in terms of signing Sutter.

“My only concern is having enough wiggle room with cap space as the season goes on,” he said.

Spaling, who came to the Penguins in the James Neal trade in June, was an unrestricted free agent and was hours away from an arbitration hearing when the sides agreed to the deal. The Penguins love his versatility, as the projected third-liner can play all three forward positions and kill penalties.

He scored a career-high 13 goals last season.

“He's a very useful player,” Rutherford said. “I've liked him quite a bit for a few years now.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

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