Four More On Way to Wheeling
The Wheeling Nailers, the “AA” affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers, announced Tuesday the Penguins have assigned forward Mark Letestu from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and the Flyers have assigned forwards David Laliberte and Gino Pisellini along with defenseman Mike Vannelli from the Philadelphia Phantoms.
Wheeling is carrying 12 players under contract by either AHL or NHL clubs.
Letestu, 22, did not appear in a regular-season game for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins before being assigned to Wheeling.
The 5-foot-11, 195- pound center signed an NHL entry level contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins on March 22, 2007.
He made his professional debut last season while playing in three games during the 2006-07 regular season, and appeared in two Calder Cup Playoff games for the Baby Penguins.
Letestu played four seasons with the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Albert Junior Hockey League, leading league in scoring with 105 points (50 goals, 55 assists) in 58 games during the 2005-06 season. That performance led him to be named the AJHL Most Valuable Player.
Laliberte, 21, skated in one game this season with the Phantoms before being assigned to the Nailers. He enters his rookie campaign after five seasons playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Prince Edward Island Rocket. Selected by the Flyers in the fourth round (124th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-1, 198-pound winger recorded 50 goals and 48 assists for 98 points and 86 penalty minutes in 68 regular-season games last season.
Pisellini, 21, was a member of the Nailers opposition last season while with the Trenton Titans. In his rookie season, he split time between the Phantoms (32 games) and the Titans (23 games) accumulating a total of two goals, four assists and 118 penalty minutes in 55 games. Selected by the Flyers in the fifth round (149th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-0, 210-pound winger recorded 545 penalty minutes in 190 games while playing junior hockey for Plymouth of the OHL.
Vannelli, 24, will begin his professional career with the Nailers after having completed a four-year career at the University of Minnesota. Drafted in the fourth round (136th overall) by Atlanta in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Vannelli served as the team captain for the Gophers during the 2006-07 season.
He played in 44 games during his senior season, posting career highs in goals (10), assists (29) and points (39) while helping lead Minnesota to the WCHA championship and was named to the WCHA All-Tournament Team.
In order to make room for the additions, Brendan Cook and Garett Winder were released from the team.