The Tampa Bay Lightning, NHL parent club of the Norfolk Admirals, have returned forwards Blair Jones and Mattias Ritola to the Admirals, and have reassigned forward Carter Ashton to the Admirals from his junior club, the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League.
Ritola, 6-foot, 192 pounds, made his NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs debut on Wednesday night with the Lightning in Game Four of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He appeared in a NHL career-high 31 games during the season with the Lightning, recording career-bests with four goals and eight points. He also averaged 10:03 in ice time per game.
He played in each of the Admirals’ first two Calder Cup Playoff games, recording a goal and two points with a plus-2 rating. Ritola excelled in limited time in Norfolk during the regular season, posting nine goals and 27 points in only 17 games. His 1.59 points per game average led all Admirals.
A native of Borlange, Sweden, Ritola is a veteran of 228 AHL games with Norfolk and the Grand Rapids Griffins. He has amassed 50 goals and 133 points during his AHL career and had his best offensive season in 2009-10 when he tied for third on the Griffins with 42 points in 73 games, while ranking third on the team with six power-play goals and also recording an AHL career-high 178 shots. Ritola has played in 10 career Calder Cup Playoff games, recording a goal and three assists.
Ritola was originally selected by the Red Wings in the fourth round, 103rd overall, at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He joined the Lightning after being claimed off waivers from Detroit on October 5, 2010.
Jones, 6-foot-2, 216 pounds, played in 18 games with the Lightning this season, recording a goal and three points while averaging 8:00 in ice time per game. He tied career highs for goals, assists and points.
Jones played in 56 games with Norfolk this season, notching 24 goals and 55 points with a plus-17 rating. Jones finished the regular season second on the team in points, goals and plus/minus as well as tied for second in assists. Jones played in Norfolk’s first two playoff games, registering a plus-3 rating.
In 319 career AHL games between Norfolk and the Springfield Falcons, Jones has recorded 72 goals and 202 points. Jones is the career scoring leader in AHL Admirals history with 181 points (67G, 114A) in 274 games.
A native of Central Butte, Sask., Jones has played in 56 career NHL games, all with the Lightning. He has registered two goals and six points with 14 penalty minutes during his career. Last season Jones played in 14 games with the Lightning, recording 10 penalty minutes and averaging a career-best 12:50 in average ice time.
Jones was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fourth round, 102nd overall, of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
Ashton, 20, a 6-foot-3, 215-pound right wing from Winnipeg, Man., is a first-round draft pick of the Lightning (29th overall in 2009). He split this season between Tri-City and the Regina Pats, scoring 33 goals and 71 points with 106 penalty minutes in 62 games between the clubs. He also netted 17 power-play goals, tying him for fifth place in the WHL.
Ashton added three goals and eight points in 10 playoff games with the Americans. In 239 career WHL games, Ashton has scored 92 goals and 181 points with 329 penalty minutes.
Ashton also joined the Admirals at the end of last season, recording one goal in his first 11 professional games. The Lightning signed to a three-year, entry-level contract on October 2, 2009.