Penguins extend Chris Kunitz

It may not have been the contract extension Pittsburgh Penguins fans desperately wanted to hear, but they’ll be happy with this one as well.

The Penguins extended the contract of forward Chris Kunitz on Thursday, signing him to a 3-year, $12 million contract that will kick in following the 2013-14 season.

Kunitz is coming off a career year, finishing tied for 7th in scoring with 52 points in 48 regular season games. He was second behind line mate Pascal Dupuis with a plus-30 rating, as both benefitted from playing with Sidney Crosby.

Originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in 2003 after spending four seasons at Ferris State, Kunitz has totaled 403 points in his nine NHL seasons. Kunitz has been part of two Stanley Cup winning teams – with Anaheim in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2009. He is an assistant captain on the Penguins.

The news of Kunitz’s extension comes two weeks after the Penguins signed Evgeni Malkin to an 8-year, $76 million contract. Their attention now turns to signing star defenseman Kris Letang to an extension. His contract, like Kunitz’s, is set to expire following the 2013-14 season.

“You want to give yourself a chance to win, and we have young superstars (in Crosby and Malkin) who will be here long-term. We have a chance to win every year,” Kunitz said to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“It’s exciting for me and my family. The stability of having an extra three years on a deal is really nice, but knowing that we’re part of a classy organization, well coached team and a lot of great teammates…that’s definitely an exciting thing,” he told reporters for the Penguins website.

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