Penguins complete contract with Finn

Offensive threat has 2-way, 1-year deal

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The Penguins continued to add to their roster yesterday when they completed the signing of Finnish forward Janne Pesonen to a two-way contract.

Penguins assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher confirmed Pesonen, 26, signed a one-year deal worth approximately $875,000. The deal means Pesonen would get that salary if he makes the Penguins roster, but would make considerably less if he started the season on the team's minor league club in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League.

Fletcher said Pesonen, a ninth-round draft choice by Anaheim in 2004, will be given every opportunity to secure a spot with the Penguins.

"He is a player we feel has a very legitimate shot at making our roster," he said. "He is a player who has the speed and the skill set to play at this level."

Pesonen's credentials in the Finnish Elite League show he has the capability of being a very good offensive player.

He led the league in scoring last season with 78 points (34 goals, 44 assists) in 56 games with Oulu Karpat. He scored seven goals and had nine assists in a playoff run that culminated with Karpat winning its fifth league championship.

Pesonen, who also played in six games for the Finnish national team last year, was named rookie of the year in the Finnish Elite League for the 2003-04 season and in 285 career games has 216 points (94 goals, 122 assists).

"He is a player who has had a lot of success in the Finnish Elite League," Fletcher said. "To be honest, he is really the top offensive player in that league and we are excited about this signing."

In addition to Pesonen, the Penguins signed Ben Lovejoy, 24, a defenseman, to a similar one-year entry-level deal yesterday.

Lovejoy, a New Hampshire native who played at Dartmouth and Boston College, appeared in 72 games for the Baby Penguins last season, scoring two goals and notching 18 assists. He also accumulated 63 penalty minutes.

"Basically last year he was auditioning for the whole season, showing us what he could do," Fletcher said of Lovejoy. "He got that chance to show us and we thought he showed tremendous improvement as the season went on because he worked hard. Toward the end of the season, we feel he was the top matchup defenseman [in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton] and was very good on the penalty kill. We saw enough good things that warranted this contract because we thought he was a good prospect who has the chance to continue to improve."

Yesterday's two signings continue a whirlwind of recent offseason moves for the Penguins since the July 1 start of free agency.

On the plus side, the team last week worked out a contract extension with forward Evgeni Malkin that will keep him under contract until 2013-14 and finalized a seven-year contract with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins also resigned defenseman Brooks Orpik to a six-year deal, agreed to terms on a two-year deal with defenseman Mark Eaton, a three-year contract with forward Pascal Dupuis, struck two one-year deals with free-agent wingers Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko, brought in agitator Matt Cooke for two years and acquired enforcer Eric Godard for three years.

The Penguins have lost winger Jarkko Ruutu to Ottawa; high-profile winger Marian Hossa and backup goaltender Ty Conklin to Detroit; and forward Georges Laraque signed with Montreal.

The Penguins lost three players to Tampa Bay -- wingers Gary Roberts and Ryan Malone had their negotiating rights traded to the Lightning for a conditional draft choice and forward Adam Hall went to Tampa Bay as a free agent.


Colin Dunlap can be reached at cdunlap@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1459.


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