Jake Guentzel has been a bright spot so far on a struggling Penguins team this year. The American winger currently has 12 goals and 22 points in 26 games. His contract expires at the end of the season; so what could it look like?
Some comparable players are both Sam Reinhart from the Sabres and the Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin. Reinhart put up similar numbers in comparison to Guentzel last season, having 50 points (compared to Guentzel’s 48) in 82 games. The Sabres signed him to a bridge deal with an AAV of 3,650,000 over 2 years. On the other side of the spectrum, the Red Wings signed Larkin to a long term deal, having an AAV of 6,100,000 over 5 years. Larkin had 63 points in 82 games last season.
Rutherford could decide to pursue either one of these routes. Having a bridge deal would lower Guentzel’s cap hit now, but could cost the Penguins on his contract after that. Signing a long term deal secures Guentzel in Pittsburgh over a longer period of time, but his cap hit would be significantly higher. Rutherford could also use the fact that Guentzel has been riding shotgun with Sidney Crosby as a negotiation tactic to lower the price. Another thing to note is the cap is expected to rise about 3.5 million for next season.
If Guentzel were to be signed to a long term extension, I would expect the AAV to be around 5.5 to 6 million. If it’s a short term deal, I’d expect around the 3 to 4 million range.