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Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, often without enforcer, add Rupp

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Penguins signed checking-line forward Mike Rupp to a US$1.6 million, two-year contract Wednesday, adding a physical presence to a team that didn't have an enforcer on the ice during the playoffs.

The 29-year-old Rupp essentially plays the same role as forward Eric Godard, who was deactivated for all of the Stanley Cup champions' playoff games.

The six-foot-five, 230-pound Rupp will make $825,000 each season. He had three goals, six assists and 136 penalty minutes in 72 games for New Jersey last season.

The Penguins lost one of their two top-line defencemen when Hal Gill signed a two-year contract with Montreal. Pittsburgh showed no interest in signing the 34-year-old Gill beyond one season.

Rupp scored the winning goal during the Devils' 3-0 victory over Anaheim in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup finals. He has 27 goals, 26 assists and 412 penalty minutes in 335 games with New Jersey, Phoenix and Columbus.

The Penguins also signed former Boston University defenceman Brian Strait to a three-year, entry-level contract. Strait was a third-round draft pick in 2006.

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