Penguins sign left winger Sterling


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The Penguins, long in the market for top-six wingers, have added a couple of worthy candidates the past few days.

Trouble is, they're more likely to fill that role in Wilkes-Barre than in the NHL.

Saturday, they signed Brett Sterling, a skilled but undersized left winger, to a one-year contract that will pay him $500,000 if he plays for the Penguins, less if he is in the American Hockey League.

Twenty-four hours earlier, they worked out a one-year deal with Ryan Craig, a grinding forward from the Tampa Bay organization.

Craig projects as a third- or fourth-liner in the NHL, if he plays there. Sterling's speed and skill are NHL-caliber, but his modest size (5 feet 7, 175 pounds) puts him at a severe disadvantage along the boards and in high-traffic areas.

Sterling had 34 goals and 22 assists in 55 games with the Chicago Wolves, Atlanta's AHL affiliate in 2009-10, and put up 144 goals and 119 assists in 254 career games with the Wolves.

In 19 NHL appearances, he managed two goals and two assists.

Sterling's niche might prove to be similar to that of Chris Conner, who is fast and talented, but whose NHL upside is limited by his stature. General manager Ray Shero described Sterling as "probably a better finisher than Chris."

Wingers, by the way, are not the only people the Penguins are adding to the payroll these days; they have hired former Ottawa and Florida general manager Randy Sexton as their assistant director of amateur scouting.

Shero, who is at the AHL meetings, was two years behind Sexton at St. Lawrence University, where their classmates included Pierre McGuire, the former Penguins assistant coach who now is a high-profile broadcaster.


NOTES -- Shero said that Andre Savard, who moved from an assistant-coaching position to a scouting job when Dan Bylsma replaced Michel Therrien as head coach in 2009, is going to remain with the team and assume an "expanded role" in the pro-scouting department. ... Sexton's son, Ben, was a teammate of Beau Bennett, the Penguins' No. 1 draft choice last month, with the Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League this past season.


For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com .


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