By John Vogl
Foreign team: TPS (Finland)
Born: Turku, Finland
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 201 pounds
2012-13 stats: 52 games, 3 goals, 12 assists, 15 points
Central Scouting rank: No. 4 (European)
Lowdown: Like other top-rated Europeans, the move to the NHL won’t be shocking for Ristolainen because he’s been playing against men in a pro league for two years. He’s actually been playing a lot. Ristolainen averaged more than 21 minutes per game while leading TPS’ defense corps in scoring. He also put up two goals and six points in six games at the world juniors.
Ristolainen doesn’t shy away from contact. The big-bodied Finn knows how to hit and can use his size and strength. He is adept at reading plays and makes solid decisions with the puck.
He’s not the best skater and could benefit by lengthening his strides. The Sabres have interest because he’s played alongside Buffalo prospect Joel Armia on national teams. The abundance of top-end forwards could push Ristolainen down the draft board.
They said it: "He's a mobile, strong, offensive-minded defenseman with very good puck-handling and passing skills. ... He knows how to use his size and strength. He's one of the best young defensemen in Europe in his age group. He's a leader on the ice and plays with confidence." – Goran Stubb, NHL director of European Scouting, to NHL.com.
The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.
taggedNHL Entry Draft