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The image above shows how serious this season was taken, NY • United States • 2021 Years Old • Male
Hello to all who are reading, I'd like to introduce to you my series of Buffalo Sabres Report Cards for any prospects who have played int he 13-14 season. I won't just be covering players who played for the Sabres or Amerks but I'll also do it for juniors or college leagues etc. So, let's get started now... I figured I'd start with probably the best prospect in the organization, Rasmus Ristolainen. The 19 year-old defender had a pretty nice start to his pro career this season. Starting the season in Buffalo and ending it in Rochester shows that the Sabres aren't quite sure where he belongs at this point in his development. Not to mention, he also played on Finland's U20 Team this year where he scored a very important goal for Finland. But before we get into the stats, lets analyze what scouts have wrote about him. One of the best defensemen of his age group, Ristolainen was a top-prospect for the 2013 NHL Draft. He is a calm player with good two-way ability and a mature style of play, though his defensive awareness and positioning still need work. More mobile and offensive than Buffalo's other 2013 1st round pick Nikita Zadorov, Ristolainen moves the puck with confidence, has a good shot from the point and has displayed ability to work the powerplay in SM-liiga. Ristolainen has an NHL-ready frame and has gained a lot of strength while playing in SM-liiga and though he is not a big-time hitter, he feels comfortable playing the body and likes to get physical in front of the net -Matias Strozyk, 2013. This report shows him to be a very solid defenseman in the future for the Sabres. Alright, now let's get into statistics. In his 34 games with the Buffalo Sabres, he posted 2 goals, 2 assists and was a -15 on a very bad team. In 34 games with the Amerks he posted 6 goals, 14 assists and was a -2 on a pretty good team. Then, during his time with Team Finland, he had 3 goals, no assists and was a +1 in 5 games. These stats show he's very good in international play but not quite there in terms of being an NHL-caliber defenseman. This isn't to degrade him, as I like him a lot but he may need another season or two in the AHL before getting big minutes on the Sabres. But, unless they sign some quality UFA defensemen, it looks like Ristolainen earned himself a spot on the main roster. So overall, in his first year in the NHL I'd grade him a B+ in development. He can play under pressure and has shown pretty good defensive skill combined with an occasional offensive flair which makes him a solid two-way defenseman in the future. What do you think about his season? Leave a grade about him below in the comments. Sorry for no paragraphs, I can't find out how to indent. If anyone can help please let me know. Thanks for reading!
Filed Under:   Buffalo   Sabres   NHL   Hockey   Draft   Rebuild   Scoring   Risto  
June 4, 2014 9:13 AM ET | Delete
June 4, 2014 1:34 PM ET | Delete
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