Despite the Stanley Cup Finals just ending yesterday, several NHL teams have been making the rounds with prospect signings. The Pittsburgh Penguins joined the fun today, signing Swedish prospect Niklas Anderson.
Anderson, 27 years old, is a defensemen and the Penguins certainly need depth on the blue line. At the end of their short lived playoff run, the Penguins were left playing with five defensemen thanks to injury.
While that likely won’t be the case again, the Penguins now at least have depth moving forward.
The one year contract is worth $625,000 according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, and it is an NHL entry deal. Anderson has been playing his pro hockey in the Swedish Hockey League, where he scored 22 points in 54 games this past season.
Five of those 22 points were goals, so its not like Anderson will be a menace on the power play. However, 17 assists is rather solid, so if that can translate to the NHL game the Penguins will have a useful and versatile defenseman.
At least one other team saw Anderson as a future NHLer. The Los Angeles Kings drafted the Swede in the fourth round of the 2007 draft with the 114th overall pick. He never signed, opting to stay in his home country of Sweden and play professionally. He has also played at times with Russia’s KHL, or the Kontinental Hockey League.
“This is a good find for us. He’ll be a good depth defenseman,” said general manager Jim Rutherford to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. “He’s real good defensively. A real good penalty-killer. There will be an adjustment to the game coming over here [to North America]. I would suspect he would start [the season] in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League] and wait for his opportunity.”
“He was captain of his team. Tommy Westlund, our European scout, knows him real well. He’s got great character, great leadership. He’s going to fit into our organization pretty good.”
This move makes a lot of sense for the Penguins who might not want to use as much of their cap space signing an NHL free agent to man the blue line. If Anderson is able to develop as a solid NHL player, it clears up many problems for the Pens and allows them to spend their money elsewhere. They might be planning on trading for a first round pick as well, after losing their original to a trade, so Pittsburgh should be busy in the weeks to come.
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