Penguins sign goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to $35-million, seven-year deal

PITTSBURGH – The Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday signed goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to a US$35-million, seven-year contract, the third long-term deal inked with one of their younger players in two days.

Penguins general manager Ray Shero called Fleury “one of the elite goaltenders of the game” and said he was instrumental in helping the team reach the Stanley Cup Final.

“He is extremely gratified to be part of the Penguins core going forward,” Fleury’s agent, Allan Walsh, told The Associated Press. “The contract shows a lot of confidence the team is placing in him and Marc is making a statement to all that Pittsburgh is where he wants to be playing.”

Fleury, 23, was eligible for arbitration and a hearing was scheduled for later in the month, but the Penguins made no secret they considered that a formality as general manager Ray Shero continued to negotiate a long-term deal with the goaltender.

Fleury said he gave clear instructions to his agent to seal a long-term deal with the Penguins.

“That’s where I want to be,” he told reporters on a conference call. “I love this city, the organization, the guys on the team.”

Fleury’s signing came a day after the Penguins signed two other players to long-term deals. Centre Evgeni Malkin signed for an average of $8.7 million over five years and defenceman Brooks Orpik signed a $22.5-million, six-year deal.

The players did not discuss giving the Penguins a “discount” on contracts to give the team a chance to remain together and win a Stanley Cup, Fleury said, noting that each player made their own choice. For him, he said, it wasn’t worth going out and looking for “a little more.”

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“This is a lot and I’m really happy with it,” Fleury said.

Fleury, the No. 1 overall draft pick for the Penguins in 2003, helped lead the team to the Eastern Conference championship before a six-game loss to Detroit in the Stanley Cup finals.

Fleury’s strong play down the stretch capped a season that saw him start slowly then miss three months due to a high-ankle sprain. His regular-season record was just 19-10-2.

In the playoffs, though, he was 14-6 with a 1.97 goals-against average, a .933 save percentage and three shutouts.

After struggling early in his career, Fleury came into his own in 2006-07, when he won 40 games in 67 appearances, the first Penguins goalie to win more than 40 since Tom Barrasso did it in 1992-93.

The Penguins also announced Thursday that they signed forwards Ruslan Fedotenko and Miroslav Satan to one-year contracts. Both had most recently played with the New York Islanders.

Satan, 33, had 41 points in 80 games, and was tied for third on the club in scoring. The native of Slovakia was originally drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 1993 and has played in 12 seasons in the NHL

Fedotenko, 29, scored 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 67 games last season. In his career, he has 123 goals and 116 assists in 523 NHL games.