Penguins sign forward Matt D'Agostini


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Sprung by the New Jersey Devils, forward Matt D'Agostini fielded a few offers over the past several days, but it wasn't a difficult decision to sign with a perennial playoff team and Stanley Cup contender.

"There were a couple of options, but we definitely knew it was a good idea to hop on this," D'Agostini said Wednesday after signing with the Penguins. "The most exciting part is coming to a team that's been so successful and still has all those pieces in place."

D'Agostini, 26, signed a one-year contract for $550,000 and aims to compete for a third- or fourth-line role at training camp in September.

A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, D'Agostini grew up with former Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy -- "I know him pretty well" -- and he just might replace the longtime third-line right winger who was recently traded to San Jose on draft day.

Or perhaps D'Agostini will find a spot on the fourth line. Or ...

"I'd like to think I bring a little versatility," said D'Agostini, who is identified as a right winger but also can play left wing "and a little bit up the middle."

D'Agostini will attempt to wrest a regular spot among the bottom-six forwards at training camp in September and said he's looking forward to what could be strong competition.

"They've got guys that play different kinds of roles and up and down the lines," he said of the Penguins. "They've got a lot of dynamic forwards up front, so maybe [I can fill a] third- or fourth-line checking role if they want. It will be fun to try to add whatever I've got to add."

D'Agostini was a sixth-round draft pick by Montreal in 2005 and regularly topped 20 goals a season in junior hockey and the American Hockey League. In 267 NHL games with the Canadiens, St. Louis and New Jersey, he has 47 goals, 95 points.

His best season was 2010-11, when he had 21 goals, 46 points with the Blues. That dipped to nine goals in 55 games the next season as competition got tougher. Last season, split between St. Louis and New Jersey, he had four goals, 12 points in 23 games.

D'Agostini was a restricted free agent, but Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello elected not to extend a qualifying offer, citing his $1.8 million salary and he became an unrestricted free agent.

The Penguins signed him for the league minimum salary. That puts them less than $200,000 under the salary cap with three restricted free agents, who were given qualifying offers, yet to sign. One of those three is defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, 24, who has opted for salary arbitration but could reach an agreement on a new contract before a hearing. Hearings run July 22-Aug. 6 in Toronto.

D'Agostini said he might have been scared off from signing with the Penguins if he were a defenseman because the team is loaded with NHL players and prospects. As it is, he is hoping to pick up where 2011-12 left off.

"That was a good year with the Blues," he said. "I'm hoping to come in and establish myself as an everyday player.

"I've always scored goals at every level I've played. I believe I can score at this level. And also play any kind of checking role, use my speed to create some chances."

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Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly First Published July 10, 2013 6:15 PM


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