Chris Kunitz hopes for long-term stay with Pens
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal can become free agents in the summer of 2013.
This coming summer, the wing they both love playing alongside could be free to leave, but Chris Kunitz hopes he still will be wearing black and gold. He wants to finish his career with the Penguins.
"That would be ideal," he said. "That's exactly right."
On the final year of a deal he signed with Anaheim, Kunitz will make $4 million this season before becoming an unrestricted free agent. Kunitz, who turned 32 last week, likely will have trouble receiving more than a two-year deal from the Penguins, given general manager Ray Shero's preference to give short contracts to players older than 30.
Still, Kunitz clearly wants to stay in Pittsburgh.
"This is a great core of young guys," he said. "It's a great bunch. I love playing with them."
And they love playing with him. Crosby, Staal and Evgeni Malkin frequently praise Kunitz, whose simple but effective game makes him a comfortable linemate.
Consider the success Crosby has enjoyed with Kunitz:
• Crosby scored 15 goals during the 2009 Stanley Cup run with Kunitz on his left wing.
• Crosby scored a career-high 51 goals during the 2009-10 season with Kunitz on his left wing.
• Crosby was playing the best hockey of his career last year with Kunitz on his left wing before a concussion ended his season.
Pascal Dupuis has played many games on Kunitz's line and understands what makes him so valuable.
"It's how hard he works," he said. "You know exactly what you're getting out of him on every shift. It's nice to play on a line with a guy like that."
Dupuis offered some advice regarding Kunitz's lack of a contract for next season.
"He can't think about it," he said. "If you do think about it, you won't play your best hockey."
Kunitz opened the season Thursday night in Vancouver on a line with Staal. The two have thrived together before -- notably in 2009, during Kunitz's first few games with the Penguins.
"It's all the little things that he does," Staal said. "He's so good on the walls, he's such a good skater and he passes the puck well. Honestly, there isn't anything that he doesn't do well."
Staying healthy may be the lone exception. Kunitz has missed 48 games during that stretch, but his effectiveness hasn't been hampered by the injuries. In only 66 games last year, Kunitz scored 23 goals, his second-best NHL output.
"He does a lot of things that don't always end up on the scoresheet," Dupuis said. "But then, he does end up on the scoresheet a lot."
Kunitz figures that being a favorite of the team's three star centers isn't a bad bargaining chip.
"Definitely," he said with a smile. "And I like playing with them, too."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Penguins’ Scuderi offers honest assessment of his 2013-14 performance
- Penguins captain Sidney Crosby says aching wrist doing better
- Penguins backup goaltender Zatkoff eyes new challenge with team
- Now healthy, Penguins’ Bennett eyes bigger role