Penguins Notebook: Shero says Pesonen still part of future despite no recall
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When the Penguins signed Finnish winger Janne Pesonen as a free agent in July, they spoke of the possibility of him becoming a top-six forward in the NHL as early as this season.
But, when the Penguins summoned five players from their minor league team in Wilkes-Barre a few days ago to serve as a playoff taxi squad, Pesonen didn't make the list. It included forwards Chris Minard, Jeff Taffe and Dustin Jeffrey, defenseman Ben Lovejoy and goalie John Curry.
Pesonen appeared in seven NHL games in 2008-09 and failed to record a point while receiving limited ice time. He was highly productive in the American Hockey League, however, putting up 32 goals and 50 assists in 70 games.
Pesonen will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and, somewhat surprisingly, has said that he would like to re-sign with the Penguins.
And, even though Pesonen had no impact at the NHL level in his first winter in North America, the Penguins apparently wouldn't mind having him back.
"Absolutely not," general manager Ray Shero said. "He was good for us.
"Maybe with a different situation next year, he'll get a better opportunity [to play in the NHL].
"He really adjusted well and, on top of that, is a great guy. He's really well liked by his teammates We'll talk [about bringing him back]. We're definitely not closing the dooron it."
It remains unclear whether Penguins left winger Matt Cooke will have a hearing with NHL officials in connection with his knee-on-knee contact with Carolina's Erik Cole in the third period of Game 1.
Cole was injured on the hit but returned later in the game.
Officials of both teams said yesterday that league officials had looked at tape of the incident, but Penguins coach Dan Bylsma declined to offer his perspective on the incident.
"It's not my job to share my feelings on the hit," he said. "That's up to the league. Matt Cooke was engaged, trying to make a hit on a guy.
"The league will decide what it thinks about the hit."
Penguins winger Craig Adams played on Carolina's championship team three years ago and likely knows better than most that the Hurricanes' personnel is more imposing than many realize, presumably because they work in a smallish market that has a relatively low profile across the continent.
"There are some guys who fly under the radar there because they play in Raleigh," Adams said.
A good example of that, he said, is first-line left winger Ray Whitney who, despite turning 37 years old 12 days ago, is coming off a 77-point regular season. That's Whitney's second-highest total since breaking into the NHL with San Jose during the 1992-93 season.
"A guy like Ray Whitney is an unbelievable player," Adams said. "If you look at what he's done the last few years, when normally you would say he's coming to the end of his career, it seems like he's getting better.
"I don't think he's a guy who's ever been considered a star in the league, but he puts up a point-a-game and he's a pretty big part of that team, in terms of leadership and his personality in the room."
Cole, who had two vertebrae in his neck broken on a hit from behind by Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik three years ago, sent Orpik hurtling into the boards with a solid hit in Game 1.
Turned out, though, that check was just part of a sequence between the two.
"I got him pretty good right before that," Orpik said. "He knows how I play, I know how he plays. I think that if you'd ask any one of us, they'd probably say, 'They really don't like playing against one another,' but I don't see that being a carryover from anything. That's just the way we both play."
A dozen players participated in an optional workout at Southpointe yesterday. Third-line right winger Tyler Kennedy was the only regular in the group. ... The Penguins will practice today at Mellon Arena.
First Published May 20, 2009 12:20 am