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Road to the NHL Draft: Rasmus Ristolainen

By John Vogl

Rasmus Ristolainen

Position: Defense

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

The Buffalo News is profiling 30 prospects in 30 days leading up to the NHL draft June 30.


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John Vogl

John Vogl

John Vogl has been covering the Sabres since 2002-03, an era that has included playoff runs, last-place finishes and three ownership changes. The award-winning writer is the Buffalo chapter chairman for the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

@BuffNewsVogl |

About Sabres Edge

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington

Mike Harrington, a Canisius College graduate who began his career as a News reporter in 1987, has been covering the Buffalo Sabres since 2007. He is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association and can vouch that exposed flesh freezes instantly when walking in downtown Winnipeg in January.

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Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz

Amy Moritz, a native of Lockport, has a bachelor’s degree in journalism/mass communication from St. Bonaventure University and a master’s degree in humanities from the University at Buffalo. An endurance athlete, she has completed several triathlons, half marathons and marathons.

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