Player: Dustin Jeffrey
Role: Play-making, penalty-killing, two way forward
Contract Status: Restricted Free Agent on July 1st
Notables: 23 years old, 6-2, 191 lbs, Left handed shot
AHL stats: 40 games played, 17G, 28A, +13, 8 PIM
NHL stats: 25 games played, 7G, 5A, +5, 4 PIM
Dustin Jeffrey was a busy man this season before a knee injury ended his year in late March. He started the season in the AHL with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and it was quickly evident he was a man playing among boys. He was recalled to Pittsburgh numerous times and was back and forth between both leagues for most of the first half of the season. When the injuries got bad with the NHL club and Jeffrey was given his first real look at the end of January, he stayed put and wasn't seen in the AHL the rest of the year.
Jeffrey's season ending injury puts him in an interesting position as a restricted free agent this summer. Clearly he was playing well enough to earn a 1-way contract but the questions surrounding his effectiveness after he recovers from the 6-month rehab could keep him from getting one. I think the Pens should tender Jeffrey a qualifying offer and take it from there. If the NHL Penguins go back to Crosby, Malkin and Staal at center then Jeffrey would likely be fighting for a spot on the fourth line with Mark Letestu, unless he could switch to the wing. Letestu's ability on the draw could make that move more likely.
It's not much of a stretch to say that Jeffrey will be signing another 2-way deal and beginning the season in the AHL again next season, depending on the forwards that are signed in Pittsburgh during the off season.