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Joni Pitkanen Update #328

The Fourth Period is reporting that negotiations are set to begin with Joni Pitkanen on a long-term contract. From the story:

The Oilers would like to give Pitkanen locked up to a long-term agreement, in and around the five-year range, which could see the Finnish defenseman earn around $4 million to $5 million per season.

I, as you might expect, am a big fan of this idea, despite the various questions surrounding Pitkanen's health and character. Wow, that sounds harsh.

The fact of the matter is that Pitkanen is coming off the worst season of his career, and any such contract would be of the pay-for-potential variety. A 5-year, 4.5M/season contract would look really nice in my opinion. Pitkanen is the Oilers defenseman with the greatest physical abilities, the greatest upside, and the only guy I can see emerging as a legitimate number one defenseman out of the current group.

And for those of you who don't like those contract numbers- do you really see Pitkanen as a lower tier guy than Tom Gilbert?