2015 Sabres Top 25 Under 25: #4 Rasmus Ristolainen
Ristolainen is on pace to become the Sabres top defenseman for years to come.
Weight: 219 lbs.
2014-15 team: Buffalo
Acquired: Drafted in the 1st round (8th overall) in the 2013 draft
Last year's ranking: 4
Rasmus Ristolainen played his first full season in Buffalo this year, and he already looks like an untradeable player. At just 20-years-old he's been thrown into some really tough positions and done rather well. The Sabres plan for the future relies heavily on Ristolainen becoming the team's top defenseman.
In 2013-14 Ristolainen showed fans promise, playing professionally right after getting drafted. He's Sabres stint was only 34 games, but impressive showings in Rochester and at the World Juniors boosted his standing. He scored the golden goal in the championship game for Finland, and was named to the tournament's All-Star team.
This season Ristolainen averaged 20 minutes a game this season, leading to some 2014-15 Sabres numbers like a -32 +/-. However, he often was in great position and led all defensemen in scoring. Matthew Coller detaiiled how impressive his play was, calling him an untouchable asset. Ristolainen isn't only an offensive defenseman. He is great in his own end, and even has a physical side.
He's got the size and talent that would allow him to become a top name defenseman in the NHL. What will be interesting to see is if he can up his point totals as he goes along. His eight goals this season shows his potential as an offensive defenseman, but he probably would like to up his assist numbers. He'll likely be on the top defensive pair this season, so he'll continue to have plenty of ice time to score.