Penguins sign defenceman Marino to six-year, $26.4-million extension

John Marino scores his first NHL goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins with his dad in the stands, as an errant pass finds him exiting the penalty box for a clear breakaway.

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Penguins are betting big on defenceman John Marino.

The team signed the 23-year-old Marino on Sunday to a six-year contract extension that carries an average annual value of $4.4 million.

The deal caps a meteoric rise for Marino, who was acquired from Edmonton in July 2019 in exchange for a sixth-round pick. Marino impressed as a rookie last season, scoring six goals to go with 20 assists in 56 games to go with a plus-17 rating. He is the sixth rookie defenceman in team history to register 20 assists.

The contract starts immediately and runs through the 2026-27 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.''

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,'' Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford said in a statement. ``His rookie season proved he is a top-four defenceman with great hockey sense. We were impressed with his strong defensive play and look forward to watching him develop offensively.''

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