6/18 Update: Tom Gulitti confirmed that the Devils signed Harri Pesonen from Lou himself according to this report from Fire & Ice. It's official - this is the first signing of the 2012 offseason. The following post has been updated accordingly.
According to this brand new entry at CapGeek, the New Jersey Devils have signed 23 year old left winger Harri Pesonen from JYP of the Finnish SM-Liiga to a one year entry level contract. The Finnish media outlet Keskisuomalainen has reported this as part of the breakup of JYP's top line. JYP won the 2012 SM-Liiga playoffs, led by a line of Pesonen, Eric Perrin, and Jani (Jack) Tuppurainen - only Perrin apparently remains for now. Additionally, YLE Sports has reported this news as well. Sealing this further, a user on the Devils message board at HFBoards found this picture of Pesonen holding up official paperwork from the Devils.
According to his profile at Elite Prospects, Pesonen has been fully developed in the JYP system. He's not too big at 6'0" and 194 pounds, but he's not small either. It hasn't been an issue in his time as a professional. After stomping through the competition at the junior level, he's been with the first team since the 2008-09 season. Pesonen just had his best season in terms of production in 2011-12 with 21 goals and 14 assists in 60 games. According to the SM-Liiga website, he did this while putting an astounding 288 shots on net (that's 4.8 shots per game!) while averaging over 16 minutes a game. Pesonen led JYP in scoring in the regular season, finished tied for seventh in the whole league in goals, and tied for ninth in shots on net. His playoff production throughout his whole career is also notable. In 39 total playoff games with JYP, he has 14 goals and 12 assists along with two championships; he finished fourth in entire SM-Liiga playoffs with 6 goals in JYP's 2012 run. He's no Ilkka Pikkarainen, that's for sure.
Pesonen also has a knack for having some impressive highlights. Here's a brilliant one-timer he scored that won JYP a game in the finals against Pelicans complete with an impressive celebratory pull-up on the glass. Back in 2011, he beat two Blues defenders for a score so badly I almost want to send the defenders sympathy cards. Going back to their postseason, here's an example of Pesonen driving into traffic to stash in a loose puck for a goal. Unfortunately, Pesonen notoriously boarded Markus Nordland so badly in the playoffs he got a major and a misconduct penalty. There's some evidence of a mean/undisciplined streak as indicated by his 52 PIM in the regular season (second most on JYP) and 37 PIM in this past postseason (that clip represents a good chunk of it).
The actual cap hit has yet to be determined, but it appears as of this writing that it'll be for $595,000. As with all ELCs, it is a two-way deal; Pesonen will be making $70,000 in the AHL if it comes to that. Pesonen has improved in every season with JYP and I really like the fact that he's been shooting so much - his goals aren't the function of just getting hot or lucky. I hope for his sake it's also not a function of playing alongside Perrin, who has been extremely productive with JYP for the last two seasons. It's a good low-risk signing all the same. The Devils are bereft of offensive wingers in the system, so he sort of addresses that need. If he turns out to be a winger who can handle the North American game and show some upside, then great. If not, then perhaps he can strengthen Albany for at least this season and can go elsewhere next summer. All the same, I wish him the best of luck. Presuming this news is made official, the Devils will get their first look at up close and personal look at their prospects camp on July 16.
Please discuss your thoughts and feelings about Harri Pesonen, reportedly the first signing by the Devils of the 2012 offseason.