The Penguins signed the 18-year-old centre to an entry-level contract Monday. A strong training camp and an injury to 20-year-old rookie centre Evgeni Malkin opened up a roster spot for the native of Thunder Bay, Ont.
Staal can play nine regular-season games before the Penguins have a big decision to make. If they send him back to junior his three-year NHL contract won’t kick in this season. Once he’s played his 10th game his NHL deal kicks in for good.
Staal recorded 68 points (28-40) in 68 games with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes last season. The 6-4, 215-pounder was the second overall selection in the 2006 NHL entry draft.