This is Mattias Ritola. He is a 23-year old winger in the Detroit Red Wings organization. Ritola has been working his way to the show in the AHL for the last two seasons and has turned some heads.
The Red Wings like him. GM Ken Holland: “Obviously, with the decision we made, he didn’t come in and win a job. We’ll see what happens. If he clears, he could be back up here in two weeks.”
Holland dropped Ritola and kept Kirk Maltby, a decision that makes little sense based on each player’s present (and future). Maltby is nearing 40 and hasn’t played a featured role on the Red Wings for a couple of years (and that’s being kind). I think Detroit must have someone else in mind for that 2-way role but we won’t know until we see them (I thought it might be Jan Mursak but they sent him down today).
Ritola is one of several players available to the Oilers at this time. Here’s my list of players:
- R Mattias Ritola, Detroit Red Wings: Young man can play either wing and is very creative with the puck. 5.11, 205 and described as being “responsible defensively.” Please Baby Jesus, lets get one of these before the season starts. Ritola is young enough to grow with the current group and has a wide range of skills.
- D Matt Pelech, Calgary Flames: 6.05 Coke machine with some attitude. Has more than 2 years of AHL experience and could help the overall toughness and defensive coverage on the team. Some may see him as a duplicate of Peckham, but it should be remembered that defensemen get injured a lot in-season.
- C Ryan Carter, Anaheim Ducks. Has good size and work ethic. Carter isn’t going to be a scorer, but does have a good shot. He’d be a very effective pickup for Renney’s forecheck. 52.5% on the dot last season.
- D Dylan Reese, NY Islanders: Puck moving defender with plenty of AHL experience. He isn’t terribly physical and wouldn’t get any PP time with the Oilers (they have better options) but Reese has value.
- C Matt Ellis, Buffalo Sabres. A little long in the tooth for a young team, Ellis has some skills and can play any forward position. 50% on the dot a year ago.
There are more players to come, but that Red Wing forward is a guy I’d love to see added. The Oilers are missing an entire category (“two way winger with skill”) in the department of youth and it’ll be years before any of the gifted kids is a complete player. This move (Ritola) is a small, measured and reasonable approach to the Grand Canyon that is the Oilers on both wings. The Oilers could send down a number of roster players to make room, it wouldn’t hurt a bit. Get that monster D from Calgary while they’re at it.