21-Year-Old Defenseman – Buffalo Sabres
Rasmus Ristolainen Contract Information:
Signed an entry-level contract with the Sabres in July of 2013.
Ristolainen was granted permission to practice with the team Thursday even though he has yet to sign a contract extension, Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald reports.
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Rasmus Ristolainen: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Despite his ugly minus-32 rating and rather meager total of 20 points in 78 games last season, the 20-year-old Finn is Buffalo's blue-chip defenseman and a player expected to take a big leap forward in 2015-16. With a thin blue line, the Sabres can't protect Ristolainen, but given his size, skill, and how well he's handled the pressure so far, there shouldn't be much to worry about as he continues to develop. He's locked in as one of the team's top-four defensemen and could be an intriguing late-round fantasy target.
The 19-year-old Ristolainen is Buffalo’s top-rated young player on defense, and will likely remain with Buffalo for the entire season in 2014-2015. Though his production was muted in his 34 games with the Sabres last season, Ristolainen was a key player for the team’s AHL affiliate in Rochester, scoring 20 points in 34 games. Ristolainen is at the forefront of the Sabres’ rebuild and is poised to make a greater impact this season. There will be growing pains as Ristolainen develops into a franchise defenseman, but if everything goes right, he should emerge as the Sabres’ best defenseman by season’s end.
Keeper leaguers should familiarize themselves with Ristolainen, the 8th overall pick in Juneï¿½s NHL Draft. The 6ï¿½3ï¿½ defenseman is expected to compete for a spot with the Sabres this fall after posting 15 points in 52 games for Turku in the Finnish league last season. Ristolainen is one of the top prospects among defensemen in all of hockey, with strong mobility and a cannon from the point. Since Ristolainen is just 18 years old, you should temper your expectations in one-year leagues, but be ready to pounce if he makes the big club and starts strong.