General manager Ray Shero believes that working out a three-year contract extension with Chris Kunitz will have a positive impact on the Penguins for several seasons to come.
He does not, however, expect the Kunitz deal to have any impact on his ongoing negotiations with other players.
"It certainly should not," Shero said.
Not with unrestricted-free-agents-to-be such as Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke and Craig Adams.
Not with defenseman Kris Letang, who has a year remaining on his contract.
Kunitz's extension, which will take effect in the 2014-15 season, carries a salary-cap hit of $3.85 million. That's an increase of $125,000 from his current deal, which has one season remaining.
Shero has been discussing contracts with a number of players lately. In most, if not all, cases, those talks are expected to stretch into the weekend, and probably beyond.
He said Thursday that "there's not really anything to update" about the negotiations, and agents who could be reached echoed that assessment.
However, Letang's camp subsequently turned down an eight-year deal that nearly would have doubled his $3.5 million salary. ESPN.com reported that the Penguins rejected a long-term counteroffer that would have been worth more than $7.5 million per season, but that could not be immediately confirmed.
Dupuis, Cooke and Adams, among others, won't qualify for free agency until July 5. The Penguins would be allowed to re-sign any of them after that, although it is unusual for players to return once they've hit the open market.
The focus on the Letang talks -- and, to a lesser extent, those with Dupuis and Cooke -- helped make it possible for the negotiations that yielded the Kunitz deal to go on undetected.
Their roots stretched back to Kunitz's exit interview a couple of days after the Penguins lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference final, when he confirmed to management that he would like to stay.
"We talked a little bit at the exit meeting," Kunitz said. "I told them I would be interested ... I knew that if something was going to get done, it probably would happen quick."
He might have been able to get more money if he had opted to explore free agency next summer, but obviously is content with the niche he has here.
"We like our situation," Kunitz said. "Obviously, I play for a good team, and I enjoy the coaching staff.
"You want to give yourself a chance to win, and we have young superstars [in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin] who will be here, long term.
"We have a chance to win every year."
Kunitz has gotten steady playing time on the left side of both Crosby and Malkin and has solidified his credentials as a top-six forward.
He had 22 goals and 30 assists in 48 games in the regular season to tie for seventh in the NHL scoring race. He also tied for third in the league with nine power-play goals.
In four-plus seasons with the Penguins, Kunitz -- who was acquired shortly before the trade deadline in 2009 -- has 91 goals and 120 assists in 266 games.
"He's been a real good player for us," Shero said. "He's been a real good fit for us since he came from Anaheim."
Kunitz is 6 feet, 193 pounds, but plays considerably bigger. He is a ferocious forechecker and isn't shy about sacrificing his body to make a play.
Those are admirable traits -- and a big part of the reason he has a seven-figure salary -- but they do raise questions about whether Kunitz, 33, will be able to hold up physically until his new contract expires.
"Part of that's factored in to wanting to stay," Kunitz said. "I've had to deal with a few [injuries] in the past.
"You have to make sure you go out and play hard, so you have to make sure you're in the best shape you can be, take care of self. My goal is to on playing beyond 37."
Shero acknowledged that "you just don't know for sure" how long a player with a physical style can continue to be effective, but is gambling that Kunitz has several quality seasons left.
Maybe even enough of them to get over the disappointment and frustration of having what was supposed to be a run to the Stanley Cup end in a humbling four-game sweep by the Bruins.
"Obviously, that was a tough one," Kunitz said. "I don't think you ever get over it."
Dave Molinari: email@example.com and on Twitter: @MolinariPG. First Published June 27, 2013 12:45 PM