Puljujarvi signs a two-year, $1.6 million contract with the Penguins

Puljujarvi signs a two-year, $1.6 million contract with the Penguins

Cranberry, Pennsylvania — Jesse Puljujarvi signed a two-year, $1.6 million contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday. Its average annual value is $800,000.

The 25-year-old forward, who signed a professional tryout with the Penguins on Dec. 10, has nine points (four goals, five assists) in 13 games with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League this season.

Coach Mike Sullivan said Puljujarvi could make his Pittsburgh debut against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN-PIT, TSN3). This will be his first NHL game since undergoing bilateral hip surgery this offseason.

“I feel great,” Puljujarvi said. “I’ve worked really hard. It’s really great to be part of this team now.”

Puljujarvi skated on the right wing on the third line with center Lars Eller and left wing Rickard Rakell in practice on Sunday.

“No pain. I’m really happy about it. I can keep playing without pain,” Puljujarvi said. That was the point, just play the game. I’m really glad I’m at this point now. “It’s been a really long journey to come here.”

Sullivan said Puljujarvi’s time in the AHL allowed the Penguins to see if he could hold up physically after the hip procedure. Eventually, his performance made them comfortable enough to offer the contract.

“I think that was part of the process, to get him in some games in Wilkes-Barre, give him a chance to get his feet under him and establish his game,” Sullivan said. He underwent major surgery. That was a big rehab process he went through. So, that was part of it, without a doubt.

“I think with every match he played he got better and better. So here we are today.”

Puljujarvi scored 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 75 regular-season games for the Edmonton Oilers and Carolina Hurricanes last season, including two assists in 17 games for Carolina after he was acquired in a trade with Edmonton on Feb. 28. He also had one assist in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Selected by the Oilers with the No. 4 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, Puljujarvi has 114 points (51 goals, 63 assists) in 334 regular-season games for Carolina and Edmonton, and six points (three goals, three assists) in 27 postseason games. .

“I think I can help this team when I skate well, make plays and be myself,” Puljujarvi said. “I try to be active every day and smile. I’m happy to be here to be part of this team.”

In addition to Puljujarvi, the Penguins (22-17-7) could have forward Riley Smith and defenseman John Ludwig in the lineup on Tuesday. Smith, who returned to left wing on the second line in Sunday’s practice, has been sidelined since Jan. 11 with an upper-body injury. Ludwig has not played since December 31 due to an upper body injury.

“I think I’m trying to build the season one game at a time,” Smith said. “That doesn’t change for me. Obviously there’s a long break between matches, but my general outlook on how the season is going to progress doesn’t change.

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