Marcus Pettersson is the lone remaining Penguins free agent without a contract.
That might not change for a while, even though Pettersson is quite content to play here and management seems very happy with how he performed after being acquired from Anaheim last Dec. 3.
The problem, according to his agent, Peter Wallen, is the team's shortage of salary-cap space.
"They've already hit the salary cap (ceiling), so there's no money left to do anything with Marcus at the moment," Wallen said today. "I guess we're waiting for them to make some room."
The NHL's cap ceiling for the 2019-20 is $81.5 million. CapFriendly.com has the Penguins $157,500 above that, based on a a 23-man roster that does not include Pettersson.
Jim Rutherford noted this week that the Penguins are not compelled to carry more than 20 players, although teams generally like to have at least one spare forward and defenseman on hand most of the time.
Wallen said his negotiations with assistant general manager Jason Karmanos have been cordial -- "I don't have any problem at all dealing with him. ... I like Jason a lot, how he handles himself and this situation." -- and that there is not yet any urgency to get a contract finalized.
"There's no rush," he said. "We have good conversations with management. We're not in a fight or anything. The communication is good. We know where they are. We know what they want to do."
Nonetheless, he stressed that Pettersson wants to have a deal in place early enough that he can attend to details, like securing a visa well before training camp opens.
"He doesn't want to spend one day outside of training camp," Wallen said. "The problem for (Pettersson), compared to maybe an American, is that he cannot go (to the U.S.) until his new visa is in place. He can't really come to camp and hope for the contract to kick in or travel a week before, or something like that. We need to have everything in place.
"That's the only concern we have. We want that to happen so Marcus can go at least a week before camp starts so he can adjust to the time difference and stuff like that and be prepared. He knows this will be his first (full) season with them, and he wants to be there, to be prepared and prove that the coach should keep playing him the way he did. He's not taking anything for granted. It's hard work and he needs to be there for preparation.
Pettersson, a restricted free agent, is coming off a three-year, entry-level deal that had an average annual value of $894,167.
Wallen did not specify the salary or number of years he is hoping to get in Pettersson's next contract.
Pettersson, 23, is 6 foot 3, 177 pounds. He had two goals and 17 assists in 57 regular-season games after being acquired from the Ducks for Daniel Sprong and could challenge for a top-four role on the Penguins defense during the coming season.
"I think they like him a lot," Wallen said. "I think they will do whatever they can to make that space for him to sign a contract, where he feels comfortable and wanted, and where they feel comfortable, as well.
"Sometimes, we just have to be patient and wait for what's going to happen, rather than rush and be eager or impatient. And Marcus is that kind of person."
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