The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
The next player up in our Top 25 Under 25 is an interesting situation. Arttu Ruotsalainen signed overseas earlier this summer, but as a restricted free agent, the Sabres still retain his rights for the time being. Naturally, this all happened as voting for the T25U25 was also occurring, but nonetheless, Ruotsalainen is still a Sabres prospect - and a worthwhile one at that.
The 24-year-old (who turns 25 in late October) had a great season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans last year. In 57 regular-season games, he put up 18 goals and added 33 assists for 51 points. His performance in the playoffs was equally stellar, with 12 points (8-4) in 10 games. He came in clutch many times over the course of the year and was a significant contributor to a strong Amerks offense that also included Jack Quinn and JJ Peterka.
He also appeared in 18 NHL games with the Sabres, registering four points (2-2).
As the offseason ramped up, it seemed like Ruotsalainen’s future was tentative. He expressed interest in remaining with the Sabres organization, and the team did extend him a qualifying offer, allowing them to retain his rights. The reality is that his chances to make the NHL this season were slim, due to no fault of his own. Guys like Quinn and Peterka are ready to make the jump, and they fall ahead of Ruotsalainen in the depth chart.
Nonetheless, Ruotsalainen signed with EHC Kloten in Switzerland for the upcoming season. I wouldn’t be surprised if he absolutely dominates there; then we’ll see what happens next summer regarding his future, whether overseas or in North America. Realistically, I can’t see him coming back to the Sabres organization. He is certainly a talented offensive player, but it’s a matter of there being - or not being - a spot for him right now, and the player doing what he feels is the best opportunity for himself.