Joensuu Signed, Witt Nominated for Masterton

I know you likely just got finished reading some negativity about the recent stretch of games, but how about some positives?

Jesse JoensuuThe Islanders and Finnish forward prospect Jesse Joensuu have agreed to terms on a 3 year entry level contract. While this may not be help for “today”, it is great to see the Islanders locking up some of their more talented prospects. They have really decimated the talent pool down in Bridgeport due to injuries and you will likely see some of the call ups – Tambellini, Comeau, Nielsen and Colliton try to make the team out of camp next season.

Per the Islanders Website:

The New York Islanders have agreed to terms with Finnish right wing prospect Jesse Joensuu on a three-year entry level contract that will begin with the 2008-09 season. Drafted in the second round (60th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Joensuu is coming off a breakout season for Assat Pori of the Finnish Elite League where he led his team with 17 goals with 18 assists for 35 points in 56 games.

Playing for his hometown team in Pori, Finland for the past four seasons, the 20-year old Joensuu (pronounced yo-EN-su) has already played in over 200 professional games in his native Finland. In that time, he has scored a total of 43 goals with 44 assists for 87 points.

“We are excited to have Jesse signed as an official member of the New York Islanders organization,” said Ryan Jankowski, the Islanders assistant general manager and Director of Amateur Scouting. “We have seen Jesse’s commitment and improvement since drafting him and along with his talent, Jesse brings to our franchise many aspects we are looking for in future Islanders.”

Brendan Witt nominated for Masterton Trophy

Brendan WittIn another bit of positive news today, Greg Logan reports on his blog that the PHWA has nominated Islanders defenseman Brendan Witt for the Masterton Trophy, which represents perseverance and dedication to hockey. Witt has been playing through various bumps and bruises all year and just recently through a sprained knee. Witt is the type of guy who throws his body around to block shots and take his guy out of the play when he can – so I am not really surprised to see him recognized for his selfless efforts.

Per Greg Logan’s blog entry:

Following the Islanders’ practice this morning, I had the pleasure of informing defenseman Brendan Witt that he is the Islanders’ nominee for the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey. The award is sponsored by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, and while it has been perceived as an award for a player coming back from injury, the plan this season is to emphasize the contributions of players who have maintained a high standard of play over a long period.

Witt fits that description perfectly, and he also has maintained a community service commitment that the PHWA takes into consideration in determining the eventual winner out of the 29 players nominated (the Rangers chapter chose not to submit a nominee this season). There will be a story in tomorrow’s Newsday that includes Witt’s reaction to the nomination and coach Ted Nolan’s comments praising one of his alternate captains, but since the full interview couldn’t be contained in the newspaper story, I’ll include more of Witt’s comments here.

Congratulations Witt, hopefully you’re a lock for the hardware! You actions certainly don’t go unnoticed here. While I don’t fancy myself a professional althlete by any means – I look up to your dedication and strength to play through injuries. I have the utmost respect for playing with an injured knee, because I have been nursing my knee for a while (MRI shortly – wish me luck).

Michael Schuerlein

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