Rasmus Ristolainen, D
Hometown: Turku, FIN
Drafted: 2013 by Buffalo Sabres, 8th Overall
May 2015 – Ristolainen played a full year of hockey in the NHL for the 2014-2015 Season. He finished with 8 goals, 12 assists and 20 points in 78 games (9 points in his last 13 games of the season). His plus/minus was 6th worst in the league at minus-32, to be fair, there were seven Sabres in the bottom 30. So it shouldn't be a black flag on his young NHL career. When Buffalo gets better, his plus/minus will be the first stat to right the ship. He had an average time on ice of 20:37 per game, and exactly 2 minutes of that was played on the powerplay. Ristolainen is developing at a very quick pace; his big stature and quick puck mobility will lead him to top powerplay minutes in the near future. Rasmus will be a great addition to your fantasy team next year as a late, maybe even last, round pick to slot into your 4th or 5th defensemen spot. Ristolainen was disappointingly left off the World Championship team for Finland. He had a real good chance to showcase his skill with a good Finnish team. Paul Zwambag
March 2014 – Ristolainen was recalled on an emergency basis March 15th after injuries to two Sabres regulars, Tyler Myers and Alexander Sulzer. Ristolainen is one of the top defensive prospects in the NHL but as far as the fantasy game goes it may take some time for him to polish up his offensive side. When trying to project Ristolainen think similar to Victor Hedman. It has taken Hedman five years and he just now seems to have finally arrived. Look for the Sabres to continue to give some of their top prospects a look as they head down the stretch of what has been a trying season. Travis Watson
January 2014 – Ristolainen finished the 2014 World Juniors with three goals but none bigger then his third, a gold medal clinching overtime winner versus the host Swedes. Ristolainen broke in off the bench and drove hard to the net to score the golden goal midway through overtime to send his Finnish teammates into a frenzy. This was Finland’s first medal since 2006, first gold since 1998 and only the third gold medal in the nations history of the World Junior Championships. Ristolainen for his efforts was named to the WJC All-Star team and awarded the Directorate Award for Best Defenseman of the 2014 World Junior Championships. Sabres management must be thrilled for Ristolainen and will be looking for him to bring that impact back with him to Rochester and hopefully Buffalo very soon. Travis Watson
December 2013 – Rasmus Ristolainen is one of seven defensemen selected to Finland's Under-20 World Junior roster for the upcoming Championships in Malmo, Sweden. When Ristolainen was released by the Sabres to compete in the World Juniors it was like Finland was getting an early Christmas present. He should help bring a calm steady presence to back-end where he will bring with him some NHL experience to help his less experienced teammates. Travis Watson
December 2013 – Ristolainen, the 8th overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft has been selected to Finland’s 2014 World Junior Selection Camp roster. Finland is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 showing and will look to Ristolainen to help lead the way from the back end. Ristolainen was playing well since he was sent to Rochester with four points in five games played but has been out of action since the end of November after being on the receiving end of a sucker punch by Lake Erie’s Mitchell Heard. From all indications it seems this won’t affect his participation in this years tournament and we will see him terrorizing the opposition first starting with Norway on December 27th. Travis Watson
October 2013 – Ristolainen scored his first career NHL goal and point in just his 9th game. Somewhat unique for a first goal scored is that it resulted in a fight as teammate Cody McCormick went to retrieve the puck Eric Gudbranson had other ideas and a fight ensued. Needless to say after all the shenanigans I am sure someone was able to get Ristolainen his milestone puck and will be a goal I am sure he will never forget. Travis Watson
October 2013 – Rasmus Ristolainen was able to crack the Sabres opening night lineup but he still hasn't been able to make an impact on the ice that the Sabres had hoped for. Ristolainen was sent down to make room for fellow 2013 draft pick Nikita Zadorov when the Sabres needed to make room to activate him off of the injured reserve. However, his demotion was short lived as he returned when he was recalled two days later. Through eight games he has yet to register any points with two penalty minutes and a minus-four rating. It will be a trying year for the Sabres and it seems as though they are content to ride things out status quo and try to build up their prospects experience and see how they handle the daily rigors of the NHL. Time will tell if this development approach will work out as planned. Travis Watson
July 2013 – Rasmus Ristolainen signed a three-year entry level contract with the Buffalo Sabres on July 12th and Sabres management feels his past professional experience will give him a very good chance at cracking the 2013-14 opening day roster. Travis Watson
July 2013 – The majority of NHL mock drafts had Buffalo selecting a forward with their 8th overall pick but instead they went with the number two rated defenceman in Rasmus Ristolainen. Ristolainen was highly ranked and a consensus top 10 pick wire to wire throughout the year and the Sabres must have been thrilled for the big Finn to fall into their lap at the eighth spot. Travis Watson
February 2013 – Ristolainen projects to be molded into a top-four defenseman who excels in all aspects of the game. He owns size, effortless skating skills, physical shutdown abilities, and an offensive game that is developing on the go. He is a confident defender with advanced positioning and the intelligence to succeed as a member of the powerplay. The big Finn defenseman certainly has a top-10 skillset and will contest to be the second blueliner selected after Seth Jones. Brendan Ross
Fantasy Outlook: B+
Ristolainen isn’t the flashiest defender but his offensive skills are average to above average and his reliability will earn him plenty of ice time.
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