Former Bulldog All-American Chris Kunitz Receives NHL Contract Extension
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today (June 27) that the club has agreed to terms with forward and former Ferris State University All-American Chris Kunitz on a three-year contract extension. The announcement was made by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
The deal begins with the 2014-15 season and runs through the 2016-17 campaign, and has an average annual value of $3.85 million.
Kunitz, 33, enjoyed one of his best seasons in 2012-13, leading the team in both goals (22) and power-play goals (t-9) while ranking second on the team in points (52), rating (plus-30) and game-winning goals (t-5). It was the fifth time – and second-straight season – that he's topped the 50-point mark and the sixth time he's tallied 20 goals.
The 6-foot, 193-pound Kunitz became the first Penguins player since 2000 to score four goals in a single game when he accomplished the feat at Washington on Feb. 3. Later in the season he notched a career-best five points (3G-2A) against the NY Islanders on March 10.
Kunitz, who hails from Regina, Saskatchewan, added 10 points (5G-5A) in 15 playoffs games this spring. He tallied the overtime game-winning goal – capping a two-goal, three-point performance – in Game 3 against the New York Islanders in Round 1.
Kunitz established several career highs for the Penguins during the '11-12 season, scoring 26 goals, 35 points and 61 points to go with six power-play markers in 82 regular-season games.
A key member of the Penguins' 2009 Stanley Cup championship squad, Kunitz was acquired by the Penguins from the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 26, 2009. He went on to register 14 points (1G-13A) in 24 playoff contests that year, helping the Penguins defeat the Detroit Red Wings in the Cup Final.
Prior to joining the Penguins Kunitz played four-plus seasons with Anaheim and the Atlanta Thrashers between 2003-09. He was instrumental in helping the Ducks win the Stanley Cup in 2007, scoring six points (1G-5A) in 13 playoff games.
Originally signed by Anaheim as an undrafted free agent on April 1, 2003, Kunitz has appeared in 581 career NHL regular-season games with Pittsburgh, Anaheim and Atlanta, totaling 172 goals, 231 assists and 403 points. He has added 58 points (17G-41A) in 99 playoff games.
As a collegian at Ferris State, Kunitz excelled during his 2002-03 senior season by garnering American Hockey Coaches Association (AHCA) All-America First-Team honors and was among the final three 2003 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey's top player. A two-time (2001-02 and 2002-03) CCHA First-Team pick, Kunitz became the first Bulldog skater to earn CCHA Player of the Year honors after leading the league in points, goals, assists, and plus/minus for the 2002-03 campaign.
Kunitz concluded his stellar career ranking tied for sixth in career points (175), second in goals (99) and 18th in assists (76) in 152 contests. He played an integral role in leading the 2002-03 Bulldogs to a school-best 31-10-1 overall record, the school's first-ever CCHA Regular-Season Championship title and the program's first-ever NCAA Division I Championship Tournament appearance. Kunitz was also recognized as the male student-athlete recipient of the 2002-03 Bulldog of the Year Award, which is presented annually to the most outstanding Ferris State student-athlete.
Earlier this season, Kunitz was chosen to the CCHA's All-Decade Team for his work as a collegian at Ferris State.