With only two NHL-ready left-wingers on the roster, the Pittsburgh Penguins searched overseas and found possibly a third in Janne Pesonen.
Pesonen, a product of Karpat in northern Finland, might be the answer. But the question is, is he NHL ready?
In five seasons, Pesonen and Karpat have claimed four Finnish championships. Pesonen has played a large role in the team’s success.
Last season, Pesonen played in 56 games, registering 34 goals and 44 assists (78 pts.) to lead the league (hockeydb.com). This total was a significant increase on his point-per-game average the previous season.
All told, the Fin compiled 92 goals and 122 assists in five full seasons. In his first season, Pesonen played in only nine games, scoring two goals.
At 5’11”, 180 pounds, Pesonen does not seem to be the rough winger that the Penguins have had in the past. However, he displays the ability to find open space and demonstrates quick hands (Highlight Video).
The Anaheim, at that time Mighty, Ducks drafted Pesonen in the ninth round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Pesonen returned to Finland to play, and has improved every year since. In the last three year his point totals have increased from 22, to 55 to 78.
No one seems to know if he is ready for time in the NHL, but his numbers scream that maybe he is. At 26, he is playing the best hockey of his young career, and he might be able to compliment a third line with Jordan Staal and Tyler Kennedy. Although, who knows what the lines will look like next year.
It appears to be a hit-or-miss signing. Numbers in Finland aren’t the same as numbers in the NHL, but it is encouraging to see the Penguins dig deep in an attempt to find raw talent.