2007-08: Salmela broke through in a big way in his fourth full season in the SM-Liiga with Tappara Tampere, leading the league in goals by defensemen with 16. He set a career high in points with 32 and suited up in all 56 games, making it the second straight season he did not miss a contest. He participated in at the 2008 World Championships in Halifax for Finland, and played in eight games, and recorded 37 PIM’s. He had offers from a handful of NHL clubs, but chose to sign a one year, two way contract with the Devils at the end of May.
2008-09: Salmela was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in a deal that brought Niclas Havelid to the New Jersey Devils.
Salmela has a decent sized frame, standing at 5'11, 190 and has a multitude of skills. He is however, most noted for his offensive tools and mobility on the back end. His 16 goals last season can attest to that offensive skill set. He moves the puck up the ice well and is poised with the puck on his stick.
Salmela is a fiery, and intense individual known for playing a physical brand of hockey. He is not afraid to mix it up, even dropping the gloves on occasion. He can play a bit out of control at times, but for the most part plays decent in his own end of the rink.