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Pikkarainen hopeful as 2009 camp opens

Thursday, 09.10.2009 / 4:27 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Pikkarainen hopeful as 2009 camp opens
Pikkarainen's looking for a shot at the NHL.
Ilkka Pikkarainen is happy to be back in North America. Now he's hoping to nail down an NHL job for 2009-10.

Pikkarainen, 28, spent the last three seasons with HIFK Helsinki of the Finnish league, collecting a team-high 24 goals and 149 penalty minutes in 2008-09. His 37 points were third best on the club.

The 6-2, 220-lb. right wing was drafted in the seventh round, 218th overall, by the Devils in 2002, and signed with New Jersey in July.

“It was good for me to have been drafted by the Devils, even though I didn’t make the NHL,” Pikkarainen said Thursday, when training camp opened for rookies at AmeriHealth Pavilion at Prudential Center. “It was good when I went back to Europe, but now I think I’m ready for the NHL.”

Pikkarainen got a taste of the North American game in three seasons with the Devils’ AHL affiliate in Albany from 2003-04 to 2005-06, and posted AHL career highs of 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 2004-05.

His role in Europe put him in a position to score, though he projected third or fourth-line duty if he’s able to make the Devils out of camp. Veterans hit the ice on Saturday.

“It’s played a little bit more with the puck,” the Sonkajarvi, Finland, native said of the European game. "My role is a little bit different here, but I try to play like I play whether it’s Europe or here.”

Comparing his playing style to a power forward, Pikkarainen talked about driving hard to the net, adding: “Obviously, I like hitting.”

For now, he’s focused on doing what it takes to become a New Jersey Devil.

“I know what they expect from me,” he said. “I know what I have to do, and I’m going to try to do it.“

Here's the list of rookies at 2009 training camp:

Goaltenders: Dave Caruso, Gerald Coleman, Jeff Frazee, Mike McKenna

Defensemen: Matt Cohen, Matt Corrente, Matt Delahey, Tyler Eckford, Mark Fraser, Eric Gelinas, Olivier Magnan-Grenier, Matt Taormina, Alexander Urbom, Harry Young

Left wings: Ashton Bernard, Jean-Sebastien Berube, Eric Castonguay, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Kory Nagy, Louis Robitaille, Brad Snetsinger, Myles Stoesz, Alexander Vasyunov

Centers: Patrice Cormier, Stephen Gionta, Adam Henrique, Brad Mills, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, Michael Swift, Ben Walter

Right wings: Niclas Bergfors, Kevin Cormier, Patrick Davis, Matt Halischuk, Nick Palmieri, Nathan Perkovich, Ilkka Pikkarainen, Vladimir Zharkov