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."