Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Ristolainen
26-Year-Old DefensemanD
Buffalo Sabres
2020 Fantasy Outlook
Ristolainen has long been criticized for his play in his own end, but that improved significantly last season, at least statistically, as the blueliner posted the best plus-minus rating (minus-2) of his career just one year after posting the worst rating (minus-41) of his career. His offensive totals did suffer a bit, as he failed to crack the 40-point mark for the first time in four seasons, but that was partially due to the NHL's shortened schedule, and he still notched a respectable six goals, 27 assists, nine power-play points and 128 shots on goal in 69 games. He's also a strong contributor in the hits and blocks categories - he's had at least 200 hits in three consecutive seasons and at least 110 blocks in two of his last three campaigns. The 26-year-old Finn will continue to log top-four minutes and skate on one of Buffalo's power-play units in 2020-21, so a 35-plus point pace with strong contributions in peripheral categories is more or less a sure thing for the 2013 first-round pick. That level of production will make Ristolainen a nice third of fourth option on defense for fantasy managers this season. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a six-year, $32.4 million contract with the Sabres in October of 2016.
Two helpers in losing effort
DBuffalo Sabres
April 9, 2021
Ristolainen picked up two assists while adding six hits and three blocked shots in Friday's 4-3 loss to the Capitals.
ANALYSIS
The 26-year-old made an impact all over the ice and helped set up Buffalo's final two goals, but he wasn't able to will the club to a better result, Ristolainen has two multi-point performances in his last six games, but on the season he's managed only four goals and 13 points through 33 contests.
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2019 NHL Game Log
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2020–21 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    22:45
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    1:44
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    2:23
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2018–19
24:38
3:00
2:10
2019–20
22:48
2:20
2:15
2020–21
22:45
1:44
2:23
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
2019
2018
2017
2016
2015
2014
2013
Ristolainen has always been a strong source of offense from the blue line, but the hulking defenseman struggles badly in his own zone -- his minus-41 rating last season was the worst in the league, and Ristolainen's career plus-minus through 424 games is minus-143. Owners who are willing to eat the rating struggles will get a dependable offensive contributor, though, as the Finn has topped 40 points in each of the past four seasons, averaging 21.5 power-play points over that span to boot. There's been some speculation that there's only room for one Rasmus on Buffalo's blue line and that Ristolainen could be traded while Dahlin becomes the face of the Sabres' defense corps, but it's safe to pencil him in for close to 40 points whether he stays or goes.
Every season the Sabres promise to scale back Ristolainen's minutes, but they always end up breaking that promise because of a thin blue line. However, the 23-year-old continues to show a veteran's consistency, scoring at least 40 points and averaging more than 25 minutes for the third straight season. Even with the addition of top pick Rasmus Dahlin -- given Ristolainen's experience and what he's accomplished so far -- it's unlikely he'll be unseated as the team's No. 1 defenseman right away. There have been flashes where it seems like the heavy workload has started to wear on Ristolainen, but he's been quite resilient so far. With an improved team and one more year of experience, a fourth straight 40-point season is certainly possible. Even with an ugly plus-minus Ristolainen's an underrated multi-category defenseman in fantasy who's among the league's top 25.
Ristolainen has increased his point total (45 last year) and ice time (26:28) for three straight seasons, establishing himself as one of the league’s best young defensemen. He simply does it all for the Sabres: playing against the opposition’s top forwards, quarterbacking the powerplay, and killing penalties. The sky’s the limit for Ristolainen, who’s arrow should continue pointing up on a team that looks vastly improved on paper, and he remains Buffalo’s undisputed No. 1 defenseman. It would not be a surprise to see Ristolainen crack double-digit goals while registering his third consecutive 40-point season. Ristolainen is the present and future of the Sabres’ blue line, and it’s not unreasonable to expect him to be a top-10 scorer among defensemen. He also improved his rating to minus-9 last year (from minus-21 the year before and minus-32 the year before that); it'll be huge for his fantasy value if Ristolainen can get himself to the positive side of the ledger in 2017-18.
Ristolainen is the Sabres’ undisputed No. 1 defenseman, and perhaps the best young blueliner in the league. The 21-year-old appeared in all 82 games last season, averaging 25 minutes per contest and often quarterbacking both power-play units. He's one of the shiniest stars in a golden era for Finnish hockey, having improved his point total to 41, with his 32 assists tying young star Jack Eichel for second place on the team. As the Sabres improve, so should Ristolainen’s plus-minus, which sits at a composite minus-68 after three seasons. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Ristolainen top the 50-point mark next year as the 6-foot-4 dynamo continues growing into one of the game's premier two-way defenders.
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 June�s NHL Draft. The 6�3� 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.
More Fantasy News
Herculean effort Wednesday
DBuffalo Sabres
April 1, 2021
Ristolainen put up two assists, four blocked shots and six hits in Wednesday's 6-1 win over the Flyers.
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Struggling to find offense
DBuffalo Sabres
March 23, 2021
Ristolainen has been held off the scoresheet in the past nine games.
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Back in action Saturday
DBuffalo Sabres
February 27, 2021
Ristolainen (not injury related) will play in Saturday's game versus the Flyers, Heather Engel of NHL.com reports.
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Making progress in recovery
DBuffalo Sabres
Not Injury Related
February 25, 2021
Although he's not quite 100 percent yet, Ristolainen (not injury related) told reporters Thursday he "feels really close and really good," Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
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Not expected back soon
DBuffalo Sabres
Not Injury Related
February 20, 2021
Coach Ralph Krueger is hopeful Ristolainen (not injury related) will be ready to play "in a few weeks," Paul Hamilton of WGR Sports Radio 550 reports.
ANALYSIS
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