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Temper expectations of Juuso Riikola

June 3, 2019, 4:07 PM ET [69 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Juuso Riikola was re-signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins. This news is a few days old, but I wanted to touch on the potential impact it will have for the Penguins.

I’m going to be direct and just say it is very unlikely he ever makes a positive impact with the team. When you look at his past numbers in SM-liiga and his NHL sample I don’t see a lot of encouraging signs. The first thing you want to see is a significant offensive impact in lower leagues. While Riikola did start to improve I don’t think the improvements are significant enough to predict future success.

*From HockeyDB

Points aren’t everything for a defenseman, but if you can’t create and point at the lower levels it doesn’t bode well for the better leagues. His first NHL season was objectively bad. It concluded with him being a healthy scratch for a major portion of the year.

I’m going to use a player comparison that will not show Riikola in a good light.

Riikola was slightly better than Jack Johnson. That’s the definition of a backhanded compliment. Now it was only Riikola’s first NHL season, but there is a really important variable that needs to be considered. He is 25 years old and it is very likely he is what he is. He isn’t a prospect. For context he is older than Olli Maatta.

This signing isn’t the kind of thing that is going to cause huge issues for the team unless they try and elevate him into roles that are above his pay grade. I think you can find better depth defenseman around the league in the same price range, but if he’s the seventh guy there isn’t too much harm done. Thinking he is going to be a regular is probably a stretch at this point. He’s a way cheaper and slightly better Jack Johnson. Anything more than that would defy the evidence we currently have.

Thanks for reading!
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