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Rasmus Ristolainen Believes He’ll Be “Among First to Be Traded”

Rasmus Ristolainen of the Buffalo Sabres told media this week that he expects to be traded. When? The Sabres can technically start making deals now.

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The Buffalo Sabres are one of seven teams whose season is now officially over with. They didn’t make the playoffs, they didn’t get a shot at a play-in game and they’re frustrated about it.

Among those who spoke to the media after news of the regular season ending became official, Jack Eichel talked about how much it stings that the team has struggled, raising more than a few eyebrows. That said, no one is quite as honest as defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.

Ristolainen spoke with media and gave folks more than one juicy soundbite. Among them, he told John Vogl of The Athletic, he believes he’ll be “one of the first ones that’s probably going to get traded”.

For Ristolainen, the idea of being moved out of Buffalo is nothing new. He’s been a part of trade rumors for a couple of seasons now. Oddly, as the offseason for the Sabres begins, the organization seems to be more public in their desire to keep him.

General manager Jason Botterill was just gifted a new contract from Sabres ownership despite a lousy season. Among the many items on his to-do list, keeping his defenseman appears a priority. Botterill called Ristolainen a “core player” for the organization.

So, who do we believe?

The Sabres Can Make Moves Now

Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic writes:

As confirmed with a league source Thursday, there’s nothing stopping Detroit, Ottawa, New Jersey, Buffalo, Anaheim, San Jose and Los Angeles from making trades with each other since their seasons were officially put to rest by commissioner Gary Bettman on Tuesday.

Meaning, if the Sabres do try to trade Ristolainen, they can start today. He carries a $5.4 million per season for the next two seasons, but he’s a heck of a defenseman. You’d think there would be a team out there that might show interest, especially if they have cap space. But, is there a team among the other six organizations in the same boat as Buffalo ready to pull the trigger?

LeBrun notes, that this seems like the offseason Ristolainen gets dealt. He also adds, “My guess is the Sabres will need a wider pool of teams before getting serious on those trade talks.”

Related: Questions in Montreal About Player Playoff Availability

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