The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Valtteri Puustinen to a one-year, $775,000 contract, according to Matt Vensel. The 24-year-old winger played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season, scoring 24 goals and 59 points in 72 games.
Puustinen was originally selected by the Penguins in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Draft, the 15th last player selected. He played the first two years after being drafted with SM-Liiga’s HPK Hameenlinna. During those two seasons, he scored a total of 38 goals and 81 points in 105 games. He ranked second on his team in scoring in those two seasons, impressive numbers for a young player.
The Kuopio, Finland native made the jump to North American hockey for the 2021-22 season, playing for the WB/S Penguins and scoring 20 goals and 42 points in 73 games, leading the team in as an AHL rookie. He also played in his first NHL game, scoring an assist in the Penguins’ 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on March 11, 2022.
Last season he didn’t play in the NHL, but continued his rookie season in the AHL with an impressive sophomore campaign. In a struggling WB/S Penguins team, he led them in points with 59, six points ahead of second-leading scorer.
According to DobberHockey, Puustinen is a « quick offensive end with strong playing ability. » He is also “a very effective player on the power play”.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are in an interesting situation as a franchise. They just hired Kyle Dubas as president of hockey operations and will be looking to extend their cut window for as long as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang are on the team. It’s likely that a lot of moves will be made by the start of the 2023-24 season.
Depending on which players are moved and come in, there could be a window of opportunity for Puustinen to work his way up the NHL roster during training camp.