Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Ristolainen
26-Year-Old DefensemanD
Philadelphia Flyers
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. Traded to the Flyers in July of 2021.
Traded to Philadelphia
DPhiladelphia Flyers
July 23, 2021
Ristolainen was traded by the Sabres to the Flyers on Friday in exchange for Robert Hagg, the 13th overall pick in Friday night's Entry Draft and a 2023 second-round pick, ESPN's Kevin Weekes reports.
ANALYSIS
Ristolainen has been the subject of trade rumors for several years, and the Sabres have finally decided to deal the much-maligned blueliner. They were able to acquire quite the hall in the process. Ryan Ellis and Ivan Provorov are locked in as the Flyers' top-pairing defenders, but Ristolainen should slot into a second-pairing role in 2021-22, and he'll also likely be featured on one of Philadelphia's power-play units, giving him plenty of offensive upside. Despite playing on a weak Sabres team, Ristolainen has racked up 15 goals, 94 points, 383 shots and a whopping 631 hits over the past three campaigns, so he'll be an attractive fantasy option next season, particularly in formats that reward physical play.
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2020–21 Time On Ice Stats
  • Average Time On Ice:
    22:17
  • Average Power Play TOI:
    1:49
  • Average Short-Handed TOI:
    2:16
 
Ice Time
Power Play
Short-Handed
2018–19
24:38
3:00
2:10
2019–20
22:48
2:20
2:15
2020–21
22:17
1:49
2:16
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Flyers Power Play Depth Chart
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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
Solid effort in loss
DBuffalo Sabres
May 6, 2021
Ristolainen notched two assists, eight hits and four blocked shots in Thursday's 8-4 loss to the Penguins.
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Pitches in with pair of assists
DBuffalo Sabres
May 3, 2021
Ristolainen tallied two assists with two PIM and two hits in Monday's 4-2 win over the Islanders.
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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.
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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.
ANALYSIS
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