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[Assign] Devils assign Ilkka Pikkarainen to CSKA Moscow


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Ilkka Pikkarainen, the big Finnish right winger who never got off the ground with the Devils this season, Thursday was assigned to CSKA Moscow.

The move, to the Kontinental Hockey League team in Russia run by Viacheslav Fetisov, effectively ends Pikkarainen's career with the Devils.

"You never know. I never say never, but if we called him back this season, he'd have to go through reverse waivers. We'll still have his rights for next year," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said.

"Once David Clarkson and Patrik Elias come back, a few young players will be going back to Lowell (AHL). So if everything stays status quo, it's unlikely he'd play for us again."

In 17 games with the Devils this season, Pikkarainen scored four points (one goal, three assists) but never seemed to adjust to the NHL.

Pikkarainen, 28, cleared waivers earlier this month and remained on the Devils' roster until Thursday's assignment.

"We talked to a few teams," Lamoriello said. "Slava is at CSKA and Sergei Nemchinov is the coach. Slava said he'd like to have Pikk there. I talked to Pikk and his agent and this seemed to be the best option for him to play regularly."

CSKA Moscow will pick up Pikkarainen's $500,000 salary. Since Pikkarainen cleared waivers and was assigned to another team, his salary comes off the Devils' cap.

Pikkarainen was willing to play in Lowell, but that did not fit in with the Devils' plans. It works out well for Pikkarainen, whose wife Henna is due to give birth in late February or early March. Finland is one hour away from Moscow and Fetisov has said he will allow Pikkarainen to go home for the birth.

The Devils drafted the 6-2, 215-pound Pikkarainen ninth (218th overall) in the 2002 NHL entry draft. He spent three seasons at Albany (AHL) before going back to Sweden with HIFK Helsinki the past three years.

He was signed by the Devils to a one-year contract last summer and returned with high hopes.

"What happened was he got sick at the beginning of the year. He missed a month of training camp, came back and wasn't in shape," Lamoriello said. "Then with the inconsistency and getting sick again, he never really got on track.

"With his size and game, he's not a player who can sit and play sparingly. He has to play regularly."

That will now be in Moscow.


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