Penguins: Rights to 2008 choice relinquished

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The Penguins didn't have a pick in the first, second or third round of the 2008 NHL entry draft.

And now they don't have anything to show for their fourth-round selection, either.

They have relinquished their rights to center Nathan Moon, their highest choice that year.

Moon was not signed by the midnight deadline and will go into the talent pool for the 2010 draft later this month in Los Angeles.

The Penguins still own the rights to the other three players -- goalies Alexander Pechurski and Patrick Killeen and defenseman Nicholas D'Agostino -- they claimed in 2008. Killeen is the only one of the three under contract.

Pechurski, their fifth-rounder, has not been signed, but has a contract in Russia (as well as permission to play in North America) and is considered to have "defected" status by the NHL, so the Penguins did not have to sign him by the June 1 deadline.

D'Agostino, meanwhile, spent the past season at Cornell, and does not have to be signed while maintaining college eligibility.

Moon is coming off a productive season with Kingston in the Ontario Hockey League, where he put up 27 goals and 42 assists in 65 games. He obviously possesses good hand skills, but scouts have expressed concern about his failure to significantly upgrade his speed and quickness since being drafted.

Pechurski went 13-10-0-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage in 27 appearances with Tri-City in the Western Hockey League and also made a cameo appearance with the Penguins during a 6-2 loss Jan. 16 in Vancouver.

With Marc-Andre Fleury and Brent Johnson unavailable because of injuries, the Penguins were forced to start American Hockey League goalie John Curry against the Canucks. When Curry struggled, the Penguins turned to Pechurski, who had been summoned from Tri-City earlier in the day.

He ended up stopping 12 of 13 shots and was widely praised for his poise and the quality of his performance.

D'Agostino, a seventh-rounder, is 6 feet 1, 177 pounds and had four goals and 14 assists in 32 games with Cornell.

Also, reports out of Sweden suggest the Penguins will pursue defenseman Johan Fransson if Los Angeles didn't re-sign him by the midnight deadline, although there could be a major complication that would snuff any chance of him coming to the NHL now.

The newspaper Norrländska Socialdemokraten said Fransson recently re-signed with HF Lulea in Sweden's Elitserien, and that Dynamo Minsk in the Kontinental Hockey League is claiming he just agreed to a two-year deal there.

While getting out of the Lulea deal would not be a big problem, if Fransson actually does have a binding agreement in place to play in the KHL, that is where he likely will end up because the NHL does not have a transfer agreement with Russia.

Fransson's NHL rights have been owned by the Kings since being acquired in a trade with Dallas, and Penguins officials have not been allowed to discuss any interest they might have in him because of the possibility of a tampering change.

It's easy, however, to understand why he would attract interest from NHL clubs.

Fransson, 25, is 6 feet 1, 183 pounds. He is an excellent skater with good offensive abilities and put up 11 goals and 19 assists in 54 games with Lulea this season.

He was a second-round draft choice by the Stars in 2004.


Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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