The Pittsburgh Penguins have announced that they have agreed to terms with defenseman John Marino on a six-year contract extension worth $26.4 million. The deal begins with the 2021-22 season and runs through the 2026-27 season and carries a cap hit of $4.4 million. Marino still has one year left on his ELC, but his impressive rookie campaign last season landed him a generous raise.
The 23-year-old is coming off a breakout rookie year with the Pens where he tallied 26 points (six goals and 20 assists) and was tied for the team-high in plus/minus at plus-17, through 56 games. Four of his 26 points came on the powerplay. He finished the season fourth in points among rookie-defenseman, behind some pretty notable company in Quinn Hughes, Adam Fox, and last year’s NHL rookie of the year recipient Cale Makar.
Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford showed high praise for Marino. “We are very fortunate to have a young, skilled defenseman like John in our organization,” said 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 6-foot-1, 181-pound American’s campaign was one of the best seasons by a rookie defenseman in Penguins history. Marino is one of seven rookie defenseman in team history to record 20 assists and 26 points. He made his postseason debut last season dressing in all four games against the Montreal Canadiens where he had one assist.
Marino showed his excitement for signing his new contract saying, “You soak it all in. I don’t know if it’s really hit me yet…You think back to skating as a kid and your parents taking you to the rink – all those sacrifices paid off. It was cool to be able to experience it with my family, friends, and teammates.”
The North Easton, Massachusetts-native also discussed where he can improve his game this season. “Being more confident with the puck in the offensive zone. As a rookie, your first instinct is to not mess up – play it safe, make the right play. Maybe I’ll be more aggressive on the rush. Not get too crazy, but the confidence comes with it.”
Originally a sixth-round pick (154th overall) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers, Marino was traded to the Penguins on July 26th, 2019 for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. He was a standout in college for Harvard University where he had seven goals and 35 assists for a total of 42 points in 101 career games.
Locking up the right-handed defenseman long-term was a priority for GM Rutherford and may prove to be a bargain signing down the road. If Marino can continue to improve and build off of his rookie season, he could be a potential successor to Kris Letang when the veteran’s time comes. Nevertheless, this is a fantastic signing for the Pens locking up Marino long-term at a relatively low AAV.
A breakdown of Marino’s $26.4 million contract:
2021-22 – 1.75M
2022-23 – 3.5M
2023-24 – 5.25M
2024-25 – 6.15M
2025-26 – 5.3M
2026-27 – 4.45M