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Pittsburgh signs defenseman O’Neill

The Pittsburgh Penguins, parent club of the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, have signed defenseman Will O’Neill to a one-year, two-way contract.

The deal has an average annual value of $575,000 at the NHL level.

O’Neill, 27, was one of the top offensive defensemen in the American Hockey League this past year, ranking fifth among all league blueliners with 48 points (10 goals, 38 assists) in 72 games with the St. John’s IceCaps.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound O’Neill teamed with forward Kael Mouillierat, who signed with Pittsburgh yesterday, to help the IceCaps advance to the 2014 Calder Cup Finals. During that playoff run, O’Neill led all AHL defensemen in assists (13) and points (16) in the postseason. His 13 assists led all AHL skaters regardless of position.

A native of Salem, Mass., O’Neill has compiled 23 goals and 84 assists for 107 points in 206 career regular-season games in the AHL, all with St. John’s. He was originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the seventh round (210th overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft.