TAMPA — The Lightning moved closer to finalizing its roster by today's 3 p.m. deadline with a flurry of moves, the most significant being the acquisition off waivers of Mattias Ritola from the Red Wings.
The 23-year-old left wing likely will have a fourth-line spot, though GM Steve Yzerman, who in four years as a Detroit vice president had a good look at Ritola, said his upside is enticing. So is his reasonable three-year, $1.535 million contract that has a minor-league component this season but is an NHL deal in the second and third years.
"He's a very skilled player, a strong, reliable two-way player I believe can play on our team," Yzerman said. "He's got the skill and ability to provide depth if we get some injuries. He can play on our top lines if we need him."
Claiming Ritola meant Eric Perrin was released from his tryout. G Cedrick Desjardins, LW Johan Harju and LW Chris Durno were assigned to AHL Norfolk. D Mathieu Roy is on waivers. If he clears he also will be assigned to Norfolk.
The roster is at the 23-player limit. If, as expected, D Mattias Ohlund (knee) is on injured reserve, the count will be 22, which will give Yzerman flexibility to add a player off waivers.
Ritola, 6 feet, 192 pounds, who will wear No. 21, is good with the puck in the offensive zone. The knock is he is not a consistent finisher, though he had seven, 15 and 19 goals in three seasons at AHL Grand Rapids.
"He's figuring it out," Yzerman said. "We're going to push him and work with him on that because he can shoot the puck and handle the puck and make a play. At the minimum he's a reliable, strong guy who can play a checking role as well."
PERRIN GOES GRACEFULLY: The center said he told Yzerman he was "grateful" for the opportunity "to show what I can do." And Yzerman said Perrin, 34, did not disappoint.
But when Ritola was claimed, the equation was clear.
"We made the decision (Ritola) is a 23-year-old guy we think is ready to play in the NHL who can play the same role (as Perrin), so I made the decision to go with the younger player," Yzerman said.
It also helped that Ritola is signed for three years with a reasonable cap hit of $511,667.
Perrin, trying for his third stint with the Lightning, said he likely will play next season in Finland.
"I have no regrets," he said. "I felt great about my camp. I felt I put it all out there. It makes me feel better (the release is) not because I didn't do good enough."
TEAM BUILDING: There is no practice today. Players will go fishing on the Gulf of Mexico.
"The idea is for the guys to mingle," coach Guy Boucher said. "Going into the first game, we want to make sure it feels like a team as soon as possible."
"You become better friends," RW Teddy Purcell said of such outings. "When you become better friends, you want to battle harder for each other. You want to win for each other and fight for each other. It's important."
TICKETS: About 2,000 remain, at all prices, for Saturday's opener against the Thrashers at the St. Pete Times Forum.
BABIES: Monday, D Mike Lundin and wife Shelly had a son, Finn Michael, 8 pounds, 3 ounces. Durno and wife Carli had a daughter, Sloane, 7 pounds, 1 ounce.