There is no question that the way things ended for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League season has left a very bad taste in the mouths of the players, fans, and the organization itself. I have no information to support this claim but given what I know about Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford I expect there will be significant changes made to the roster between now and the start of the 2019- 2020 National Hockey League regular season.
Well on Saturday the Penguins general manager took his first step towards potentially improving his roster for the upcoming season by taking something of a gamble on a late bloomer. According to a report from National Hockey League contract database Cap Friendly, it now appears that the Pittsburgh Penguins have managed to secure the rights of 27 year old Finnish forward Oula Palve although it does not appear that this will be a long term deal for the Penguins.
It seems likely that the Penguins had to fight for Palve with a few other NHL franchises as earlier in the season Sportsnet's National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman acknowledged that the late bloomer had caught the attention of a few NHL organizations as of late. Here's an excerpt from Friedman's 31 Thoughts all the way back in November:
There were two European tournaments last week: the Deutschland Cup in Germany and the Karjala Cup in Finland. There were a few teams watching Finnish free-agent centre Oula Palve at the latter. He has 15 points in 17 games for TPS Turku, and was scoreless in this event. He’ll be 27 in February. One scout compared him to Par Lindholm, who came this year from Sweden to join Toronto.
Palve is certainly on the older side of things when it comes to free agent players signed to their first ever NHL contracts, however there is also no question that he has shown significant improvement every season since he joined the ranks of the Finnish Elite League. This most recent season was no exception and although he had only 15 points at the time of Friedman's initial report he never took his foot off the gas peddle and maintained that scoring pace through the season. In his 53 regular season games with TPS Turku he recorded 16 goals and 35 assists for a total of 51 points, just under a point per game of production. He also picked up a good number of penalty minutes with 79, by far the most of his career in the Finish Elite League, and was a plus minus of +5 over the season.
At the time he was being viewed as a player that could fit somewhere in the top 9 of an NHL line up, and I assume that is still where teams like the Penguins see him moving forward. The one downside here for the Penguins is that due to his age this will be a one year deal. Due to his age Palve will be an unrestricted free agent after just one year in the NHL.