Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen reported to training camp as a gesture of goodwill, but will not play in any of the three remaining preseason games. That is, unless the contract situation gets resolved before that.
Rasmus Ristolainen, in white, is back on the ice with his Sabres teammates while awaiting a contract. pic.twitter.com/rZbMfNsIjo— John Vogl (@BuffNewsVogl) September 29, 2016
The regular season starts on October 13th, but General Manager Tim Murray remains unconcerned. Recent media rumors say that the player and team are ‘not close’ on a contract, but that doesn’t appear to faze Murray. Murray also doesn’t think that Ristolainen being in Buffalo will have any effect on the ongoing negotiations.
"No. Unless you ask him that when he got here that he got all lovey-dovey and wants to play for what we want to pay him."
The Finn is a restricted free agent, with the Sabres choosing to retain his rights in June. While he's not allowed to play per NHLPA regulations without a contract, the defenseman is at training camp with the team, taking part in practice sessions and team meetings.
Ristolainen was a first round pick for the Sabres in the 2013 draft. He has been in Buffalo for three seasons, and led the team in ice time (over 25 min TOI) as well as all Buffalo defensemen with 41 points (9G, 32A).
Murray declined to say if there had been any progress made in the process. Ristolainen will not be available to speak to the media, and Associated Press reports that their messages left with his agent Mike Liut were not returned.
The Sabres GM said he was surprised by Ristolainen's request to be involved at training camp, marking a difference from other unsigned restricted free agents such as Hampus Lindholm and Richard Rakell who are not at practice, and Jacob Trouba who has openly asked to be traded.
He went on to add that he preferred him practicing in Buffalo than anywhere else.
Sabres coach Dan Byslma refused to get drawn into the conversation -
"I think it shows a lot from both the player that he wants to be here practicing with his team, and it shows a lot from us, a lot from Tim, that we want him here as well. The contract will take care of itself."