Fleury, Whitney join Penguins

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be getting even more help for their playoff run when Marc-Andre Fleury joins the club this week. The top pick in the 2003 Entry Draft is expected to join the AHL Penguins Tuesday, and could be in uniform when they open the Calder Cup 2004 Playoffs Thursday night in Bridgeport.

Fleury, 19, is available to join the Baby Penguins because his Cape Breton junior team was knocked out of the postseason last week when they fell to Chicoutimi, 4-1, in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Quarterfinals. Fleury was 1-3 with a 3.10 goals against average and a .886 save percentage in four playoff games with the Screaming Eagles.

Just the third goaltender to be taken with the first overall pick in the NHL Draft since 1968, Fleury finished his junior career with a 73-52-17 record, 3.19 goals against average and four shutouts. He was 8-1-1 with a 1.98 goals against average and .933 save percentage in 10 games after being reassigned from Pittsburgh to Cape Breton on Jan. 29.

Fleury began the season with the Penguins, recording a 4-14-2 record with a 3.64 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage. He was the NHL’s Rookie of the Month in October.

The 6-2, 172 pounder from Sorel, Que., also appeared in five games for Team Canada at the 2004 World Junior Hockey Championships in Finland, posting a a 4-1-0 mark with a 1.81 goals against average and .920 save percentage while leading the club to a silver medal.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins also announced that defenseman Ryan Whitney has been signed to an amateur try-out contract.

Whitney, 21, is currently finishing up the spring semester at Boston University. He will attend classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and will spend the rest of each week with the Penguins. He will join the Penguins on Thursday in Bridgeport where the team opens up the playoffs against the Sound Tigers in the East Division Semifinals.

The 6-4, 202-pound native of Scituate, Mass., led the Terriers in scoring with 25 points (9+16) in 38 games this season. He was ranked among the team leaders in power play points (4-7-11), play goals (tied for first with four), assists (second), goals (tied for third), penalty minutes (third with 56) and shots (tied for fifth with 78).

In 107 career games with Boston University, Whitney recorded 59 points (16+43) and 150 penalty minutes. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and signed to a contract for the 2004-05 season last week.