In the end, familiarity was the deciding factor for Rob Scuderi. For the Pittsburgh Penguins, too.
Less than an hour into NHL free agency, the Penguins were reunited with an old friend.
Four years after he signed with the Los Angeles Kings weeks after helping the Penguins to their third Stanley Cup, Scuderi signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract with Pittsburgh on Friday.
“When moving your family, the transition can be kind of odd and awkward,” the 34-year-old defenseman said. “I thought going to Pittsburgh, the familiarity with the area would make for an easier transition.
“And most important, the team is in a win-now mode.”
The Penguins also announced the re-signing of another player on the 2009 Cup-winning team, forward Craig Adams. Adams, who has been with Pittsburgh since being claimed off waivers in early 2009, signed a two-year extension with an average annual value of $700,000.
Scuderi, who also won the 2012 Cup with Los Angeles, missed only nine games over his four seasons with the Kings.
The Penguins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final during Scuderi’s final two seasons with the Penguins; since then they have won three playoff series in four years. They were swept by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference finals last month.
Scuderi’s teams are 13-5 in playoff series with two Stanley Cups, three appearances in the final and four conference finals over the past seven years.
“Let’s face it, I’m a plug,” Scuderi said of his simple game. “I play good defense; I’m going to move the puck tape-to-tape when I can, and when I don’t have an opportunity to, I’m going to put the puck in the safest areas. It’s not the prettiest thing in the world, everyone knows that. But it can be effective.
“One of the reasons I felt comfortable coming back is that the Penguins said that was what they were looking for. I want to make sure I’m a good fit for what they need and that together we can do some good things.”
Scuderi has seven goals and 79 assists in 585 career NHL games, including one goal and 11 assists in 48 games last season. He had a career bests in points (16) and plus-minus (+23) with the Penguins in 2008-09 just before the Penguins let him walk in free agency.
“There are some things that in my job you wish for a do-over on, and this is one of them,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said.
“At the time there wasn’t a chance we could financially, and I said it at the time I was very happy for him and [wife] Courtney to have that opportunity money-wise. He had never made it in his career. It’s a great story, and that happens in the salary-cap world — guys have to leave.”