The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed defenceman Brian Dumoulin to a six-year contract worth a reported $24.6 million. The team made the announcement Monday.

The 25-year-old is now signed through the 2022-2023 season.

“I’m excited,” Dumoulin said. “It’s been in the works for a long time and for it to be done now and not have to worry about it and focus on just playing the game and playing hockey, it’s exciting. It’s something that I wanted, which was a long-term deal with Pittsburgh. I couldn’t be happier and more excited.”

Dumoulin was scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Monday, but the contract signing came first and he didn’t have to attend. That’s probably a good thing for both player and team, as it avoids the painful process and negates the one-year bridge deal that usually follows an arbitrator’s ruling.

Dumoulin has been skating on Pittsburgh’s top defensive pairing with Kris Letang and has earned himself a spot among the team’s best players, which is no small feat. He’s been an integral part of the Penguins’ back-to-back Stanley Cup championship runs, skating in all 49 post-season games in the past two seasons and scoring 14 points.

With Letang out, Dumoulin led all Penguins skaters with an average ice time of 21:59 minutes in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Maine native has 33 points in 163 regular season games, all with Pittsburgh.

He was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and was traded to Pittsburgh in 2012 as part of the deal that swung Jordan Staal to Raleigh.

Dumoulin is young enough to bring some big upside to his game for the Penguins and he’s proven himself as a viable playoff performer as well as a top defenceman in the NHL. He may not be a top-tier name on a club that boasts a great many top-tier names, but he’s cool with that. And, best of all, he’s only going to get better.

“I think both years I’ve definitely improved,” he said. “I still know that I can keep improving throughout these years and I still feel like there’s a lot of good hockey in front of me. I’m excited to have that long-term deal and be able to get better and work with Pittsburgh to continue to try and improve my game.”

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