Mattias Ritola is one of the first pieces of the puzzle for the 2010-2011 Detroit roster to be put in place. Ritola signed a three-year contract that will likely earn him some more playing time with Red Wings instead of the Griffins.
Here's a short contract breakdown via Ansar Khan of MLive.com:
It's a two-way deal for the first year: Ritola would earn an NHL salary of $500,000 or an AHL salary of $105,000. He would need to clear waivers, however, to be sent to Grand Rapids.
At only 23 years old, Ritola has a lot of potential in terms of a long-term future in the NHL as well as honing his offensive skills alongside the current Red Wings roster. Ritola is a bit undersized at 5'11" but that hasn't really hampered success all that much in the past for the Red Wings in their system and his puck control--which is pretty good--could help him out of situations that his size can't.
Ritola played in one playoff game and a handful of regular season contests but spent the majority of his time in Grand Rapids. With his old contract expiring, it was expected the Red Wings would re-sign him over Jason Williams and bringing him to the NHL squad. Signing Ritola eliminated any speculation that Williams would return and Ritola could see the playing time that was award to Williams last season.
Ritola's NHL success is yet to be proven but there's a lot that he can benefit from at the NHL level that he couldn't quite get at the AHL level. First, he will likely play alongside either Valtteri Filppula or Jiri Hudler, two guys that are excellent at puck possession and setting up teammates. Ritola will benefit from their passing ability and could have some decent goal totals if he is able to stick with the Wings out of camp.
We'll have more up on Ritola and what it means for the rest of the roster/cap later but in the meantime for all your NHL free agency needs, head on over to the hub at SB Nation.