The courtship finally paid off.After weeks of trying, the Las Vegas Thunder has landed the player it had been seeking. Pittsburgh Penguins holdout Petr Nedved has signed to play the rest of the season with the Thunder.”I’ve had three No. 99 jerseys in the trunk of my car for two weeks,” Las Vegas general manager Bob Strumm said, referring to Nedved’s uniform number.The Thunder planned a press conference for 11:30 this morning to announce the signing. Nedved is is expected to dress for tonight’s 7:05 game against the Long Beach Ice Dogs at the Thomas Mack Center.The Thunder was close to signing Nedved on March 26, but the Penguins’ star center preferred to remain in his hometown of Prague in the Czech Republic. He attempted to win a Czech Elite League title for Sparta Praha, the same team for which his younger brother, Jaroslav, played.But as soon as Sparta Paraha was eliminated from the title race, Nedved was more than willing to help the Thunder win the Turner Cup.”It’s kind of threefold,” Strumm explained. “A, you add the player. B, a player of this nature makes everybody better. C, it cranks up the level of our hockey club.”Thunder head coach Clint Malarchuk was more blunt in discussing Nedved’s impact.”It would make the difference between trying to squeak through the first round and going in guns blazing to win the Turner Cup,” Malarchuk said. “He would make us a legitimate contender.”Nedved, 26, was the second overall selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1990 NHL draft. He went on to play for the St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers before blossoming in Pittsburgh.His finest campaign came in 1995 96, when he recorded career highs of 45 goals and 54 assists. wholesale jerseys from china In 18 Stanley Cup playoff games that season he added 10 goals and 10 assists.”His numbers speak for themselves,” Strumm said. “He’s arguably one of the top centers in the world, certainly among the top 10.”Las Vegas has four games left on its regular season schedule.In addition to his offensive prowess, Nedved would fit into the Thunder’s late season push to increase its bulk. He stands 6 foot 3 and weighs 195 pounds.”Sometimes it’s a 200 piece puzzle, and it take a while for the 200th piece to pop up,” Strumm said. “He’s a great addition at this stage of the season.”Nedved, a restricted free agent, was available to the Thunder because of his season long holdout with the Penguins.Contract talks between the Penguins and Nedved’s agent, Tony Kondel, were tenuous before the season started and deteriorated from there.Kondel originally sought a five year deal worth $18.5 million, which the Penguins immediately rejected. Four months ago, Kondel proposed a two year deal for $6 million but did not receive a response.