The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed forward Joe Vitale to a two-year contract extension, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
The deal begins with the 2012-13 season and runs through the 2013-14 campaign, and has an average annual value of $550,000.
Vitale, 26, has emerged as one of the Penguins’ most versatile performers during his first full NHL campaign. In 44 games this year, Vitale has three goals, seven assists and 10 points.
In addition to seeing action on the NHL’s fourth-ranked penalty killing unit, Vitale leads the team with a 55.9-percent success rate on faceoffs and places fourth among forwards with 24 blocked shots.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was on the ice at CONSOL Energy Center for a pre-practice skate Monday.
Crosby skated with injured teammates Simon Despres and Jordan Staal and strength and conditioning coach Mike Kadar.
"Joey, when he was born had two kidney problems. He had two surgeries," Sam Vitale said. "The one thing I think about all the time is after his second surgery my wife and I were in tears and the doctor said, ‘Don’t feel so bad, your son doesn’t know what he’s going through. One thing I’ve found out about kids at this age that have this kind of surgery is they grow up to be tough, strong men.’ I just keep thinking about that. The doctor was right."
Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin, who leads the League's scoring race, is the First Star, while Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Hartnell is Second Star and New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov earns Third Star honors.
Malkin, who entered Monday's play with 58 points -- three more than the Flyers' Claude Giroux -- and is tied with teammate James Neal for third with 26 goals, has 9 goals during a six-game scoring streak. Seven of them have come in the third period or overtime.
Malkin scored the Penguins' only regulation goal and also scored in the shootout as the Penguins edged the Hurricanes last Tuesday. He scored a pair of insurance goals to turn a close 2-1 game into a 4-1 win against the Rangers on Thursday; had the game-tying goal and the decisive shootout goal the following night to defeat the Canadiens; and scored the overtime goal to go with a pair of assists in Sunday afternoon's 4-3 win against the Capitals
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The Pittsburgh Penguins have recalled defenseman Simon Despres from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, it was announced by executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero.
Despres, 20, played 13 games with Pittsburgh during his first NHL stint earlier this season. He tallied one goal, three assists, four points and a plus-4 rating while averaging 15:27 minutes per game. Despres made his NHL debut with Pittsburgh against the Washington Capitals on Dec. 1, earning his first NHL point (assist) that night.
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound native of Laval, Quebec has played in 25 AHL games this season for WBS, scoring three goals, four assists and seven points. Last week, Despres was chosen to represent the Eastern Conference in the AHL All-Star Classic Jan. 29-30 in Atlantic City, N.J.
I don’t have an update for you on [Sidney Crosby]. He is in light exercise. He is exercising. What that is, in terms of heart rate and activity, is different on different days. That’s where Sid is in his rehab right now.
And, in encouraging news, Kris Letang returned to the ice before practice to skate with other injured players.
"It’s a little bizarre. He should just put it in his locker instead of hanging it up there," Fleury grinned. "We’ll show him where his locker is. There are hangers in the locker so he doesn’t have to go through the trouble of putting his clothes up there. If he does it every morning or game day that could get inconvenient."
Ottawa Senators forward Jason Spezza is the League's First Star, Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne is the Second Star and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin is the Third Star....
Malkin also has a five-game points streak after exploding for 5 goals and 3 assists in three games last week. He had Pittsburgh's lone tally in a 4-1 loss to Detroit and struck for a goal and an assist in a 6-4 defeat against Ottawa. With the Penguins reeling and in need of a victory to turn the momentum back in their favor, Malkin stood front and center and responded with his first hat trick of the season and two assists in an 8-3 rout of the Sabres.