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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins will keep 18-year-old centerman Jordan Staal on their NHL roster, it was announced today by General Manager Ray Shero.

Shero also said the Penguins will send 19-year-old defenseman Kris Letang back to his junior team, Val d’Or of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Staal, the second overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, has recorded four goals and one assist for five points in nine games. He is averaging 13:14 of ice time and played more than 17 minutes in the Penguins’ 8-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Saturday night.

“Jordan has earned his spot on our roster and deserves to play at the National Hockey League level,” Shero said. “We all knew about his skill level when we drafted him, but his work ethic, maturity and consistent effort have enabled him to make what is normally a difficult transition for a teen-ager.”

Letang, a second-round draft pick in 2005, registered two goals in seven games with the Penguins. He now heads back to Val d’Or, where he recorded 25 goals and 68 points in 60 games last season and also represented Canada at the World Junior Championships. It is expected that he will again play for Canada at this year’s WJC.

“I think it was a great opportunity for Kris to play at this level, to expose his game to this level, and to learn,” Shero said. “He did some really good things for us, and we all know he has a bright future with the Penguins. We expect that Kris will have a strong season with Val d’Or, play for Canada in the World Junior and continue to improve his game.”

When Staal, Letang and Sidney Crosby scored goals for the Penguins in a 6-5 win over the New York Rangers Oct. 12, it marked the first time in 24 years that three teen-agers on one team had scored in an NHL game.

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