Penguins bring back free agent D Scuderi

In the end, familiarity was the deciding factor for Rob Scuderi.

For the Pittsburgh Penguins, too.

Less than an hour into NHL free agency, the Penguins were

reunited with an old friend.

Four years after he signed with the Los Angeles Kings weeks

after helping the Penguins to their third Stanley Cup, Scuderi

signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract with Pittsburgh on

Friday.

”When moving your family, the transition can be kind of odd and

awkward,” the 34-year-old defenseman said. ”I thought going to

Pittsburgh, the familiarity with the area would make for an easier

transition.

”And most important, the team is in a win-now mode.”

Later Friday, the Penguins announced the re-signing of another

player on the 2009 Cup-winning team, forward Craig Adams. Adams,

who has been with Pittsburgh since being claimed off waivers in

early 2009, signed a two-year extension with an average annual

value of $700,000.

Scuderi, who also won the 2012 Cup with Los Angeles, missed only

nine games over his four seasons with the Kings. The Penguins

advanced to the Stanley Cup final during Scuderi’s final two

seasons with the Penguins; since then they have won three playoff

series in four years. They were swept by the Boston Bruins in the

Eastern Conference finals last month.

Scuderi’s teams are 13-5 in playoff series with two Stanley

Cups, three appearances in the final and four conference finals

over the past seven years.

”Let’s face it, I’m a plug,” Scuderi said of his simple game.

”I play good defense, I’m going to move the puck tape-to-tape when

I can, and when I don’t have an opportunity to, I’m going to put

the puck in the safest areas. It’s not the prettiest thing in the

world, everyone knows that. But it can be effective.

”One of the reasons I felt comfortable coming back is that the

Penguins said that was what they were looking for. I want to make

sure I’m a good fit for what they need and that together we can do

some good things.”

Scuderi has seven goals and 79 assists in 585 career NHL games,

including one goal and 11 assists in 48 games last season. He had a

career bests in points (16) and plus-minus (+23) with the Penguins

in 2008-09 just before the Penguins let him walk in free

agency.

”There are some things that in my job you wish for a do-over

on, and this is one of them,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero

said.

”At the time there wasn’t a chance we could financially, and I

said it at the time I was very happy for him and (wife) Courtney to

have that opportunity money-wise. He had never made it in his

career. It’s a great story, and that happens in the salary-cap

world – guys have to leave.”

A 1998 fifth-round pick of Pittsburgh’s, the Syosset, N.Y.,

native became a regular with the Penguins following the 2004-05

lockout. He was a reliable presence on the ice and popular in the

dressing room, but with the Penguins up against the salary cap he

was let go in July 2009, signing a four-year, $13.6 million deal

with Los Angeles.

His extended family remains in New York on Long Island, and

that’s where his wife’s family also resides. Scuderi said that was

no small factor in his decision to relocate back east. Other than

the Kings, Scuderi said he was only willing to consider signing

with Eastern Conference teams.

”To be able to play (the three New York City area-based) teams

consistently and with Pittsburgh being a seven-hour drive or a

one-hour flight as compared to a cross-country flight is something

that I missed over the last few years. I missed having them be part

of our lives and their grandkids’ lives.”

Scuderi has appeared in 515 of a possible 540 regular-season

games since the 2006-07 season, including the past 264 consecutive

regular-season contests. He hasn’t missed a game since Dec. 7,

2009, playing in every game of the past three seasons.

Adams has been just as durable in recent years, missing only two

games the past four seasons for Pittsburgh while playing a

versatile, fourth-line role. Adams, 36, can play center or wing and

is one of the Penguins’ top penalty killers. He has long been a

favorite of coach Dan Bylsma’s.

”He’s meant a lot to our team,” Shero said. ”He plays a big

part of our penalty kill and grit. On the fourth line he plays

center and wing.”

Adams had three goals and six assists this past season and has

totaled 49 goals and 93 assists in 799 games over a 12-year

career.