Sabres, Ristolainen end stalemate, sign contract

Robin Lehner made 28 saves for the shutout and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Carolina Hurricanes.

The stalemate is over.

The Buffalo Sabres and RFA defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen agreed to terms on a six-year, $32.4-million contract Tuesday, just one day before the 2016-17 season gets underway.

Ristolainen’s new cap hit of $5.4 million puts his contract among comparables Oliver Ekman-Larsson ($5.5 million), Tyler Myers ($5.5 million), Seth Jones ($5.4 million) and Morgan Rielly ($5 million).

“Rasmus has already proven to be a pivotal player on our blue line and we are eager to have him back with the team,” Sabres general manager Tim Murray said. “This deal is a reflection of the hard work and improvement Rasmus has shown since being drafted, and we hope to see him continue on this trajectory moving forward.”

Since being drafted by the Sabres in the first round (8th overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft, Ristolainen has played in three NHL seasons. The Turku, Finland, native has recorded 65 points (19+46) and 65 penalty minutes in 194 career games.

The 21-year-old did not participate in pre-season games while he negotiated a raise from his expired entry-level contract, which carried a modest $925,000 cap hit. He did, however, practise with the Sabres and attend team meetings.

A native of Turku, Finland, Ristolainen posted 32 assists, 41 points and did some excellent work on the power-play during a breakout 2015-16 campaign. He led all Sabres in ice time, averaging 25:16, and was selected to Finland’s World Cup roster.

“I like it [in Buffalo]. Great people, top fans, first-class organization. I like the guys I’m playing with,” Ristolainen told us last month.

“There’s still disappointment for us. We have to bring playoff hockey back to Buffalo, and that’s what we’re going to do next year.”

October 11, 2016


Rasmus Ristolainen

Buffalo Sabres
6 yrs
$5.4 million
$32.4 million

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