Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

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Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby Penspal on Fri May 18, 2018 8:26 am

A 24 yr old Finnish Dman who played in the Finnish Elite league

https://www.tsn.ca/penguins-agree-with-finnish-d-riikola-1.1088479

Ollie's buddy perhaps?

Don't care, until I see otherwise, he's equal to Matt Hunwick..... :P
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby OKpensfan247 on Fri May 18, 2018 9:21 am

Whoops, just now saw this. Thx Penspal. I deleted my new topic.

Anyone know anything on this guy?
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby FLPensFan on Fri May 18, 2018 10:11 am

I kind of hear he's meh. I think in the end, he will be a depth AHL guy. I had heard rumors that Bengtsson was going to go back to Sweden, and just saw something from @NHLRosters that Bengtsson has indeed signed with Linkoping HC of the SHL. Bengtsson was an RFA.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby lemieuxReturns on Fri May 18, 2018 2:58 pm

I am always fine with free assets.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby OKpensfan247 on Sat May 19, 2018 2:11 pm

Tough loss in Bengtsson. I mean, due to his lime disease, he only got to play 16 and 37 games the last two years and only reported 0 goals and 15 assists last year in AHL... So it's not like he was killing it at AHL level, but man he had so much promise with his skating, shot, and RHD depth.

Too bad. Best of luck to him.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby pekkasteele on Sun May 20, 2018 4:18 am

FLPensFan wrote:I kind of hear he's meh. I think in the end, he will be a depth AHL guy. I had heard rumors that Bengtsson was going to go back to Sweden, and just saw something from @NHLRosters that Bengtsson has indeed signed with Linkoping HC of the SHL. Bengtsson was an RFA.


Yea, I posted a Swedish article in the thread about our RFA and UFAs where they say he will probably sign for LHC, but the GM did not confirm it so it is still not official.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby FLPensFan on Sun May 20, 2018 9:55 am

OKpensfan247 wrote:Tough loss in Bengtsson. I mean, due to his lime disease, he only got to play 16 and 37 games the last two years and only reported 0 goals and 15 assists last year in AHL... So it's not like he was killing it at AHL level, but man he had so much promise with his skating, shot, and RHD depth.

Too bad. Best of luck to him.

From a few things I read after he signed in Sweden a few days ago, seems his game was just not translating well to North America.

I'm betting we see Ethan Prow gone next, as this guy had a lot of hype and was a decent coup getting him as a college UFA. I hear almost nothing about him anymore. He's 25, got almost 100 games at the AHL level. Doesn't seem like he is going to make any impact at the NHL level.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby pens_CT on Sun May 20, 2018 11:29 am

FLPensFan wrote:
OKpensfan247 wrote:Tough loss in Bengtsson. I mean, due to his lime disease, he only got to play 16 and 37 games the last two years and only reported 0 goals and 15 assists last year in AHL... So it's not like he was killing it at AHL level, but man he had so much promise with his skating, shot, and RHD depth.

Too bad. Best of luck to him.

From a few things I read after he signed in Sweden a few days ago, seems his game was just not translating well to North America.

I'm betting we see Ethan Prow gone next, as this guy had a lot of hype and was a decent coup getting him as a college UFA. I hear almost nothing about him anymore. He's 25, got almost 100 games at the AHL level. Doesn't seem like he is going to make any impact at the NHL level.


When you look at defensemen who were true free agents (never drafted) the list of guys who have made a name for themselves at the NHL level is pretty small over the last 5 to 8 years. I could only come up with Dekeyser for the Wings, Nate Schmidt now with Vegas, and to a lesser extent Lovejoy. Based on that I'm not expected much with Riikola beyond AHL depth.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby FLPensFan on Wed May 23, 2018 1:29 pm

So, Seth Rorabaugh of the Athletic has a piece on Riikola today. Summary of Seth's piece:

--Tommy Westlund, a former 1998 draft pick of the Hurricanes by Rutherford, is currently a European scout for the Penguins. He made four or five trips to see Riikola at KalPa.
--KalPa's coach, GM, and majority owner is.....Sami Kapanen. Rutherford has a good relationship with Kapanen, and Kapanen said he played with Westlund in Carolina, and they have known each other for 15-20 years.
--Billy Guerin was also part of the recruitment process. Kapanen said the Penguins kept an eye on Riikola all season.
--Rorabaugh spoke to Kapanen on the phone yesterday for an interview.
--Rorabaugh described Riikola as smaller, quicker guy at 6 foot. Kapanen said that is fairly accurate, he is very stable and strong on his skates. Said he is a very fluid skater, and said even when the guy is pushing himself, it doesn't look like he is going 100%. Kapanen said and quoted don't take this comparison the wrong way, but he said in terms of fluid skating he is very comparable to Erik Karlsson. HE IS NOT SAYING THE GUY'S OVERALL GAME IS COMPARABLE, just the skating side. Kapanen said he is strong and can delivery big hits, and said he is a skating, two-way defenseman who can play physical.
--Kapanen said he is a LH guy, but he is not exclusively LD. He can play either side. His only ask in the past has been to stick to one side. Said they were moving him around back and forth, and Riikola came to him and said I don't care what side I play, but he'd prefer not to bounce back between LD and RD every few games. He felt better and more locked in playing one side for a long stretch.
--Kapanen says skating wise, his individual skill there is elite level. When they were down a defenseman for part of the season, he was averaging 28-30 minutes a night. Says that is way too much, especially on the Olympic size rinks, but he was conditioned well enough to handle it for 7-10 games they needed him to do so. Says he can make a good first pass out of the zone, and he can rush the puck up the ice, too.
--Offensively, he's not a guy that looks to put up big offensive numbers, but he has a very big, heavy slap shot.
--He was the top PK defenseman for the team in terms of ice time. Kapanen said if they ever went down to a 3 on 5, they typically went with two forwards and Riikola on defense.
--Rorabaugh asked how much of an adjustment the NA rink would be for him. Very mixed answer from Kapanen. First sentence was "I think he might take a little while." Yet, his very next statement was "At the same time, I’m fairly confident that he will adjust quick." Kapanen went on to say that the practice rinks in Finland are 26 meters, which are about the same size as NHL rinks. He says most of the rinks in Finland are 28 meters, which is about half-way between NHL size and Olympic size. I believe what he is getting at here was, they often practice the first few weeks on the smaller rink. I believe KalPa plays their home games on Olympic sized rinks, but other teams may play on the mid-sized, 28 meters.
--Rorabaugh asked about the off-ice adjustment, coming to America. Kapanen said anytime you are having to do things in another language it is an adjustment. However, it sounds like they had a good number of English speaking players on the team in the past few years, and that has helped his grasp of English much better. Kapanen said last season the coaching staff decided they were going to use English as the language of the locker room.

So, here's my take on this:

Overall, sounds like a good, calculated risk by the Penguins. The fact that he is somewhat physical player, and that he has played on various rink sizes should be a huge benefit to him adjusting to NHL game. The fact KalPa spoke English last year in the locker room should be a big help to him adjusting to America in general. I think the Penguins will give him a long, hard look, and HOPE that he can make the big club to start the season if he is ahead of the adjustment curve. It's not the worst thing in the world for him to start at the AHL level, either. But I think they can try and have him live with Maatta for a bit (Riikola and Maatta were U-20 teammates for Finland) to help him adjust.

I think this could be a small, silent, effective move. I'm banking on the negative side and not expecting him to make the NHL right away, but, it wouldn't be a shock to me if he could do it. Time will tell.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby Badger Bob on Wed May 23, 2018 4:13 pm

The cheers from the stands will be AWESOME!!!

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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby FLPensFan on Thu May 24, 2018 10:15 am

Pensburgh also did a piece on Riikola, citing Seth's conversation with Sami Kapanen, as well as reaching out to Corey Pronman, who is well known for his work analyzing draft prospects and younger players. They essentially listed his Pros and Cons going by info from both parties:

Pros
============
--Powerful slapshot
--Fast on feet with effortless skating
--Can create space with his body, despite smaller size
--Can play both sides of defense

Cons
============
--Slow wind-up on his slapshot
--His size, 6 foot, 190lbs. He could be pushed around a bit by bigger bodies in NHL.
--Transition to smaller rink could be an issue.

Summary
If we’re being realistic, Riikola’s chances aren’t looking that great, but he might surprise us. He has a decent shot (even that’s slow to wind up) that, if it avoids net-front traffic, could really add another element to the Penguins’ blue line.

Pronman kind of said it best after we reached out to him: “He can move the puck fine and has become quicker since his amateur days, but he doesn’t have a ton of upside. Realistically, he’s a low-end of roster or depth guy if he makes it.”
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby Jim on Thu May 24, 2018 11:27 am

Most shots from the blue line aren't "fast" wind-ups. A lot of the time there is a fake shot or two before the real shot/pass happens anyway.
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby battleship kelly on Wed May 30, 2018 8:23 pm

he stinks, why even bring him in, must be a sully type player
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby Pens4Life on Thu May 31, 2018 4:18 am

Maybe he can be good cheap 3rd pairing guy,maybe even with Maata.. despite Oli deserving top 4 minutes
we DONT NEED flashy defenders,we need good positional smart defenders
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Re: Pens sign Finnish Dman - Juuso Riikola

Postby Pensfan4life8771 on Tue Jun 12, 2018 12:36 pm

Couldn't agree more with previous poster.

I'd take 6 Brian Dumolin's over 6 Kris Letangs/Erik Karlsson everyday.
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