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Penguins sign Tanev to six-year, $21 million deal

Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 1: Brandon Tanev #13 of the Winnipeg Jets keeps an eye on the play during first period action against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on April 1, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Darcy Finley/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Penguins have thrown a truck-full of money and term at Brandon Tanev.

The deal for Tanev, a former undrafted college player who scored the game-winning goal in the Frozen Four to give Providence College a national championship 2015, has leveraged being the weakest link on an otherwise very good line (and a solid penalty killer into a six-year deal worth $21 million.
[ProHockeyTalk’s 2019 NHL free agency tracker]

Tanev is coming off a career year where he scored 14 goals and added 15 assists for 29 points and set a franchise record with 278 hits with the Winnipeg Jets.

But Tanev benefitted heavily by playing on a line with Adam Lowry and Andrew Copp for good chunks of the past two seasons.

With them, Tanev was one cog in a line that was elite in terms of possession, but when broken down to how each player performed without the other, we can see that Tanev was by far the line’s weakest link.

Tanev w/ Lowry, Copp - 58.27 CF%
Tanev w/ Lowry - 52.74 CF%
Tanev w/o Lowry, Copp - 38.08 CF%
Tanev w/o Lowry - 41.49 CF%

Tanev had four points in 51 games in 2016-17. Now he’s going to make $3.5 million per year. Over the past two seasons, he’s had five shorthanded goals.

The Penguins shipped out Phil Kessel over the weekend and so far have replaced him with Alex Galchenyuk, who came over in the deal for Phil the Thrill, and now Tanev.

That’s fewer goals from, and more term and money for, his replacements. But reportedly the Penguins had to get rid of Kessel, so that might be a moot point anyway.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck.