Courtesy of Point Park University

Penguins sign Almari to entry-level contract

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Niclas Almari. -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

The Penguins have signed their 2016 fifth-round draft pick, defenseman Niclas Almari, to a three-year entry-level contract.

Finnish newspaper Iltalehti was the first to report the signing.

The two-way contract carries an average annual value of $925,000, with a cap hit of $809,167 at the NHL level and a salary of $70,000 at the minor-league level.

Almari, who turns 21 on Saturday, won the championship with his HPK club in Liiga, the top men's league in Finland, earlier this week.

Almari, 6-feet-1 and 180 pounds, has played in 107 career Liiga games over the past three seasons, recording eight goals, 10 assists, and a plus-4 rating. He’s also played 36 career games in Mestis, the second-tier Finnish league, recording one goal, 10 assists, and a minus-4 rating.

I spoke to Almari at last summer's development camp about his future plans, and he said that his plans were for this to be his last year in Finland.

“The main reason I’m staying in Finland is to get bigger overall and be NHL-ready after next season,” he told me. “I had a chance to come to the AHL and play but I made my decision.”

Almari put on about 10 pounds over the past year, so he accomplished at least one of his goals. Expect him to start next season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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