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Sabres select Finnish defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen with their first pick in NHL draft

NHL Draft Hockey_Naso
Associated Press photo

By John Vogl

NEWARK, N.J. -- The Sabres said they wanted Finnish forward and 2011 first-round draft pick Joel Armia to come to Buffalo with a friend or two. They made sure of it today.

The Sabres selected defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen with the No. 8 selection in the NHL draft.

He is believed to be NHL-ready. The 6-foot-3, 201-pounder has been playing with men in Finland for two seasons already.

"Armia is a good friend for me," the 18-year-old Ristolainen said in Prudential Center. "He told me Buffalo is a very good place and very nice city."

Ristolainen led his Finnish team in scoring with three goals and 15 points while averaging more than 21 minutes per game.

"As a two-way defenseman, I have to do everything well in every situation," he said. "I try to play like Shea Weber. He’s like my idol. He’s a big leader, plays physical, has a good shot.

Ristolainen figured he would get picked in the 10-15 range.

"It was a good surprise for me," said Ristolainen, who figures he can play in Buffalo next season. "I think it’s maybe easier to get a spot on the team if they are rebuilding."

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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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