The Pittsburgh Penguins were quite active on the first day of NHL free agency, signing forwards Evan Rodrigues, Mark Jankowski and Josh Currie to one-year contracts, it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Rodrigues and Jankowski were signed to one-way NHL deals, while Currie inked a two-way contract.
Rodrigues, 27, returns to the Penguins after being dealt to the Maple Leafs as part of the Kasperi Kapanen deal. He was originally acquired by Pittsburgh from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 24, 2020 and appeared in seven regular-season games for the Penguins, notching one goal. He was also used on Pittsburgh’s penalty kill, where he averaged 1:53 shorthanded minutes per game, the third-highest average on the team among forwards since being acquired.
“We were pleased with Evan’s play during his brief stint with us last season,” said Rutherford. “His versatility and ability to play all three forward positions, especially center, is an asset that gives us options and adds depth to our forward group.”
Prior to joining Pittsburgh, Rodrigues picked up nine points (5G-4A) in 38 games with the Sabres in 2019-20.
He enjoyed a career season with Buffalo in 2018-19, registering nine goals, 20 assists and 29 points. He also led all Sabres skaters in 2018-19 with three shorthanded points (3A).
The 5-foot-11, 184-pound Rodrigues has suited up for 199 career NHL games, where he’s recorded 27 goals, 45 assists and 72 points. At the AHL level, the Toronto, Ontario native has 70 points (23G-47A) in 128 career games with the Rochester Americans.
Rodrigues originally signed with Buffalo as an undrafted free agent after an exceptional collegiate career with Boston University from 2011-15. Over the course of four seasons, Rodrigues picked up 121 points (42G-79A) in 146 games. He served as an alternate captain for the Terriers in ’14-15, helping them to the NCAA Hockey East Championship. That season, only teammate Jack Eichel (71) finished with more points than Rodrigues’ 61 (21G-40A) in all of D1 college hockey.
Jankowski, 26, spent the first four seasons of his career with the Calgary Flames organization. In 208 career games, the forward has recorded 36 goals, 28 assists and 64 points. He recorded a career-high 17 goals in 72 games during the 2017-18 season, and set career highs in assists (18) and points (32) during the 2018-19 campaign.
“Mark is another versatile player that gives us an option at the center position,” said Rutherford. “His added experience on the penalty kill, where he has had success over the last few seasons, makes him a good fit for our team.”
Known for his penalty killing, the 6-foot-4, 212-pound Jankowski has recorded seven career shorthanded goals, including five in 2018-19. Since his first full NHL season in 2017-18, his seven shorthanded goals are tied for fifth in the league. In that same span, Jankowski’s 344:11 minutes of shorthanded time on ice ranks second among all Calgary forwards.
Prior to his professional career, Jankowski played four seasons at Providence College from 2012-16 with teammate Brandon Tanev. In 148 career collegiate games, Jankowski tallied 43 goals, 67 assists and 110 points. The forward was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team during the Friars’ run to the NCAA Championship in 2015, then was named to Hockey East’s First All-Star Team the following season in 2015-16.
The Hamilton, ON native was originally drafted by Calgary in the first round (21st overall) in the 2012 NHL Draft.
Jankowski’s grandfather, Lou Jankowski, played four seasons in the NHL with Detroit and Chicago between 1950-55, while his great uncle is former Penguins coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Red Kelly.
Currie, 27, spent the 2019-20 campaign with the Bakersfield Condors of the American Hockey League where he served as an alternate captain. He recorded 24 goals, 17 assists and 41 points in 56 games. His 24 goals and 41 points ranked first on Bakersfield.
The 5-foot-10, 172-pound Currie has 21 games of NHL experience all with the Edmonton Oilers in 2018-19, where he accumulated five points (2G-3A) and was plus-2.
A native of Charlottetown, PEI, Canada, Currie has played parts of five seasons in the AHL with Bakersfield. He’s appeared in 297 career games, where he has 103 goals, 85 assists and 188 points. He’s eclipsed the 40-point plateau in each of his last three seasons.
Prior to turning pro, the undrafted forward had a successful four-year career with the Prince Edward Island Rocket of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he served as captain his final two seasons. He recorded 185 points (97G-88A) in 237 career contests.