Friday: The Penguins have made the signing official. Riikola has signed a one-year entry-level contract, and will join the Pittsburgh organization for the 2018-19 season.
Thursday: According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the Pittsburgh Penguins have agreed to terms with undrafted European free agent Juuso Riikola. Riikola was eliminated along with the rest of Finland today from the IIHF World Championship. The 24-year old is eligible to sign a one-year entry-level contract with the Penguins.
Riikola has been a fixture with KalPa in Finland’s top professional league for several years, and put up another solid season this year with 24 points in 59 games. The left-handed defenseman will enter a Penguins system that is relatively void of defensive prospects, and could get a chance quickly with the organization.
There’s no telling when the team would try him out at the NHL level, but for a club that is always fighting the salary cap due to big commitments to several forwards, adding cheap defensive depth is a positive. There is a chance the Penguins will buy out Matt Hunwick’s contract this summer, leaving another roster spot open for someone to come in and fill. Riikola could potentially be that player if he adapts quickly to the North American game, especially now that Andrey Pedan is heading to the KHL.