Wednesday, August 27, 2008

28 profiles in 28 days....The Finnish Wildcard

Welcome back to TST's 28 profiles in 28 days. Here's the backstories of players previously profiled:
Kris Beech....The Unwanted One
Matt Cooke...The New Ruu
Sidney Crosby....The Chosen One
Pascal Dupuis….The Iceman
Ruslan Fedotenko….The Battletank
Eric Godard....The Goon
Tyler Kennedy....The Sparkplug
Evgeni Malkin....The Showstopper

Player Name: Janne Pesonen
How Acquired: Signed as a free agent 7/08

Position: Winger

Age: 26
Contact Situation: Signed thru 2008-09 season.

Last Season Stats: (Karpat of the Finnish SM-Liga) 56 games played, 34 goals, 44 assists = 78 points (league's leading scorer and MVP
Last Season Write-up: Pesonen dazzled the SM-Liga, leading his team Karpat to their fourth championship in the past five years and picking up league MVP and playoff MVP along the way. A good measure to judge a player is their stats compared to their teammates. Last season the only two players other than Pesonen to score more than 50 points for Karpat were two career European players in their mid 30s and Pesonen had more goals than all but three others on his team had points. Those are two pretty good indicators that Pesonen was a vibrant offensive player in Finland. The million dollar question, of course, is how will that translate to the NHL?
Career Year Stats: Last season

Player progressing, in prime or regressing: Pesonen will be thrown into the deep end of the pool in a couple of weeks. It remains to be seen if he has the chops to swim or if he'll sink.
Potential line-mates: Pesonen could be on either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin's scoring lines if he shows he can keep up with the stars,has the hands to finish and the strength to fight through North American checking. Or he could be on a lower line providing the classic Finnish effort and grit with other checking players.
"Best case scenario" stats: 82 games played 30 goals, 40 assists, 70 points...Best case, Pesonen steps right in and looks like he's been playing NA style hockey all his life and is a 30 goal guy for Crosby or Malkin. That case seems unlikely, but that's where the bar is set.
Notes: Is Janne Pesonen the next Vladimir Vujtek? Long-time Pens fans will remember Vujtek, dubbed the "best player not in the NHL" by many was given a chance with the Penguins. He didn't work out. Pesonen didn't come to play in the AHL but he'll have to prove that despite his modest size (listed at 5'11, 180 pounds) that he has the strength and all-around ability to play at the highest level in the world.
Interesting fact: A lot of pixels have been devoted to Pesonen since he splashed on the scene in early July. But anytime you have a "cult song" in Finnish or have a youtube highlight reel like this it's going to be posted. The celebration of the goal scored :38 seconds in still kills us.


DMG said...

I'd bet size will be a non-issue. In my experience European teams don't exaggerate heights and weights while it's very common in North American, all the way down to Junior B and D-III college. Pesonen might be listed at 5-10, 180, but my guess is if he had been playing in North American since he was 18 he would be listed at 5-11, 193.

DMG said...

Excuse me, first height/weight should say 5-11, 180

Hooks Orpik said...

Good point DMG, there's no way in hell Martin St. Louis is 5'9" unless he's standing on a step ladder.

So I guess the old saying really is true: it isn't the size that counts, it's how you can handle it. (That's what I'll keep telling myself anyways)..

Still it bears to watch how Pesonen will handle the small rinks and increased physicality of the North American sport.