Penguins betting big on rookie John Marino with 6-year, $26.4M US extension

·2 min read

The Pittsburgh Penguins signed defenceman John Marino to a six-year, $26.4 million US contract extension on Sunday.

Marino, 23, is coming off a breakout rookie season, putting up 26 points (six goal, 20 assists) in 56 games—fourth best among rookie defenceman last season.

"I don't know if it's really hit me yet," Marino said after signing the deal on the eve of training camp. "But a really cool experience, just thinking back to when you were skating as a kid and your parents were taking you to the rink. All those sacrifices that paid off. It was pretty cool to experience it with my family, friends and teammates."

Marino was scheduled to become a restricted free agent next summer. Now he can settle in with the Penguins.

"I think it's important to stay with a team that really wants you, wants you to develop and progress as you go along in your career," Marino said. "It seems like a great fit with the coaches and the teammates. You might not have some of the same guys around later in your career, but you definitely want to be with an organization that wants you."

Marino's deal, which caries an average annual value of $4.4 million, will begin in the 2021-22 season, after he plays out the remainder of his entry-year contract.

The move gives Pittsburgh added long-term security on the blue line. Marcus Pettersson signed a five-year contract extension last January.

"We are very fortunate to have a young, skilled defenceman like John in our organization," said Penguins GM Jim Rutherford.

"His rookie season proved he is a top-four defenseman with great hockey sense. We were impressed with his strong defensive play and look forward to watching him develop offensively."

The deal caps a meteoric rise for the 6-foot-1, 181-pound blueliner who was acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in July 2019 in exchange for a sixth-round pick.