The Penguins signed defenseman Chad Ruhwedel to a two-year contract extension, Jim Rutherford announced Thursday.
The contract carries an average annual value of $700,000, the league-minimum salary in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. Ruhwedel, 29, would require waivers to be sent down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
"I knew deep down that I wanted to come back to Pittsburgh," Ruhwedel said on a conference call on Thursday. "I had a good experience there over the last three years, and it's a great organization to be a part of so I'm glad we got things done early. It's just a little peace of mind."
The Penguins initially signed Ruhwedel in 2016 and he has played 96 games for them over the last three seasons.
"Chad has exemplified what it means to be a team player the past two years," said Rutherford. "His work ethic and conditioning have allowed him to jump into the lineup at a moment's notice, which is vital to a team's success."
Ruhwedel takes pride in being able to be that type of player, and having the ability to jump into the lineup and perform as needed.
"It feels really good when (the Penguins) express their interest in me and their appreciation for the role I play for the team," said Ruhwedel. "It's always nice to hear, and it feels good to be coming back to a team that wants you. I embrace the role and just try to do everything I can to help the team move forward, and obviously try to get some personal success along the way."
Ruhwedel, a right-handed shot, appeared in 18 games for the Penguins in 2018-19, recording one goal and one assist and a minus-9 rating. He missed the last 23 regular-season games and the playoffs after suffering an upper-body injury against the Blue Jackets on Feb. 26. He played five games in Wilkes-Barre on a conditioning stint, scoring one goal and four assists and registering a plus-8 rating.
Ruhwedel likely could have signed a contract that would have come with more playing time elsewhere, and weighed those options in discussions with his agent. He chose not to test the free agency market.
"We're pretty happy with Pittsburgh," Ruhwedel said. "You want to get the playing time up as much as possible in any situation, but we wanted to come back and we're glad we made that happen."
Ruhwedel is now the seventh defenseman the Penguins have under contract for next season, along with Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, Erik Gudbranson, and Jack Johnson. Restricted free agents Marcus Pettersson and Juuso Riikola remain unsigned.
Ruhwedel is making league-minimum and would most likely clear waivers, if needed. It's a depth signing. If he ends up in Wilkes-Barre, he doesn't count towards the cap. No real risk.