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Role: Grinder, Penalty Killing Specialist
Contract Status: Signed through 2011-12
Notables: 25 years old, 5-11, 194 lbs., Right handed shot
Season Stats: 60 games played, 9G, 21A, +13, 64 PIM
Playoff Stats: 11 games played, 3G, 3A, +1, 18 PIM
Joe Vitale is basically the AHL version of a Max Talbot. He plays center, kills penalties, sticks up for his teammates, is a force on the forecheck and much more. He's an energy guy that gives every shift his best effort. Vitale was tied for first in playoff goals scored (3) and tied for third in playoff points (6) for the Penguins. His hard work and dedication to the game are paying off. With a friendly $512,500 NHL cap hit, could Vitale be a dark horse candidate to play in Pittsburgh in 2011-12?
Vitale continued to improve upon the strengths of his game this season. That is playing sound two-way hockey, hitting everything that moves and occasionally dropping the gloves to give his team a spark. With Max Talbot moving on and testing the free agent market on Friday, Vitale could fill his role on the NHL team quite well.
Vitale also proved he could create offense in 2010-11, posting a career high nine goals in his second full season in the AHL. His 30 points this season was two less than in 2009-10, but in 14 less games played.
Vitale also appeared in nine games with the NHL Penguins, posting a goal and an assist along with a -1 rating. Where he begins the season will likely depend on who else the Penguins bring in through free agency and how well he performs in training camp.