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Devils Showing Interest in Sabres’ Rasmus Ristolainen, Possible Hold Up

The New Jersey Devils are reportedly kicking tires on Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres. Is the defenseman’s numbers a problem?

While all eyes are on Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart of the Buffalo Sabres, one player who may also be on the move but has flown a bit under the radar is defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. He’s publicly expressed some frustration with how the Sabres have failed to take the next step towards being a competitive team and his name has been out there before in trade talks. He’s not shy about saying he’s unsure of what his future holds.

Related: Sabres Getting Tons of Trade Calls on Sam Reinhart, But There’s a Catch

Trade talk isn’t going to quiet down, especially after Lance Lysowski of the Buffalo News reported that the New Jersey Devils have shown interest in the 26-year-old blueliner. He cites a glaring need for a right-side defenseman thanks to Connor Carrick likely leaving in free agency and that it creates an opening for a player with more experience. Apparently, the Devils see Ristolainen as a potential upgrade.

There is some talk about how Ristolainen would fit with P.K. Subban and Damon Severson already on the books, but if the Devils want to be a better team, they need to ensure they take advantage of trade opportunities and add players who can make an immediate impact. Lysowksi writes, “The Devils have the assets (picks and prospects) that would make a deal work for Buffalo.”

Ellliote Friedman confirmed that he’d heard the Devils were kicking tires here, but also added he could see some other players being on the Devils’ radar. Among them: “Shayne Gostisbehere, with a sweetener included, but Hamilton makes sense there, too.”

Ristolainen: Smart Gamble or Terrible Idea?

If the mandate for New Jersey is to get better, one has to wonder if this is the best decision? While the Sabres will be active this NHL offseason and Ristolainen will get some attention, his plus-minus numbers have not been strong since he entered the NHL. To boot, his analytics numbers are atrocious. Some will argue that he’s only ever played for the Sabres and we all know what happens with players once they leave that organization, but it’s hard to know if that’s what’s going on with his stat line.

NHL trade rumors: Ristolainen staying in Buffalo
NHL trade rumors: Ristolainen staying in Buffalo

Is this a player who can turn things around on another team? Or, is part of the reason the Sabres have been bad for so many years is because Ristolainen has been one of their top defensemen?

The silver lining here is that if Ristolainen doesn’t work out, the Devils aren’t on the hook for very long. He’s a $5.4 million cap hit for one more season and he could be a trade asset at the deadline or the Devils can simply walk away, especially if it doesn’t cost much to acquire him.

Next: Dougie Hamilton Not the Flyers Top UFA Offseason Target

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4 Comments

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