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Penguins

Penguins sign Conor Sheary to 3-year contract

Jerry DiPaola
| Sunday, July 30, 2017, 2:00 p.m.
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates with Conor Sheary after Sheary's game winning goal against the Sabres in the third period Sunday, March 5, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins' Sidney Crosby celebrates with Conor Sheary after Sheary's game winning goal against the Sabres in the third period Sunday, March 5, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.
Penguins left wing Conor Sheary practices between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday, May 4, 2017 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tn.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins left wing Conor Sheary practices between Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday, May 4, 2017 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville Tn.

Conor Sheary is hopeful for another chance to play alongside Sidney Crosby.

Sheary signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Penguins on Sunday, as the sides avoided an arbitration hearing scheduled for Friday.

“It was difficult in the sense it took time to (finalize the deal), but it was all worth it,” Sheary said by phone Sunday. “I am excited and happy to get it done. Hopefully, it won't be my last.”

The Penguins were willing to overlook Sheary's slump during this year's Stanley Cup run and clearly put more weight on his regular-season performance, when he was fourth on the team with 23 goals and 53 points in 61 regular-season games. Sheary was a winger on Crosby's line, which made signing Sheary one of the team's offseason priorities.

“There was probably a two-week period with Sid and (Jake) Guentzel that they were really special,” Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said.

The Penguins also avoided arbitration with defenseman Brian Dumoulin last Monday when they agreed on a six-year, $24.6 million deal minutes before the hearing.

Sheary, 25, put up impressive numbers despite limited power-play time. Of his 23 goals, 21 were scored at even strength. He slumped in the playoffs, scoring only two goals in 22 games and sitting out a game as a healthy scratch.

Sheary said the decision of where he plays rests with coach Mike Sullivan, but he would relish an opportunity to rejoin Crosby's line.

“We definitely grew some chemistry,” said Sheary, who plans to take the Stanley Cup golfing at the end of August during his day with the trophy. “If I get the opportunity to do that again, I'll take it.”

Rutherford has been busy this summer with the signings of Sheary and Dumoulin while trying to keep the two-time Stanley Cup champions together. But his offseason work is far from finished.

He is still hopeful of acquiring another center. Plus, the Penguins are waiting for center Matt Cullen, who will turn 41 in November, to decide if he wants to return or retire.

“He has a decision to make,” Rutherford said of Cullen, “not just about hockey. He's a terrific family man and it's about what's right for his family.”

Rutherford was helped a bit by the fact that Sheary and Dumoulin share agent Lewis Gross.

“When we were talking about Dumoulin, we were also talking Conor,” Rutherford said.

Sheary played his best hockey in January, recording six goals and nine points during the week ending Jan. 22 and earning the NHL's First Star of the Week. He finished the month with 13 points, second-most on the team to Crosby (14). His eight goals were tied for third in the NHL.

A native of Winchester, Mass., Sheary has played in 105 regular-season games and posted 63 points (30 goals, 33 assists) in his first two seasons. He entered the NHL in 2014 as an undrafted free agent.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at jdipaola@tribweb.com or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

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