Sabres sign Rasmus Ristolainen to six-year deal

The Sabres locked up their top RFA defenseman two days before their season opener.

The Sabres will not have to start the season without Rasmus Ristolainen, as Tim Murray confirmed to John Vogl this afternoon that the Sabres and Ristolainen have reached a deal. A few minutes later, the Sabres announced it officially.

The contract is a six-year deal with an average salary of $5.4 million according to TSN's Bob McKenzie and Sportsnet's John Shannon. That seems like a very team friendly deal in this market, especially with the term attached to it. To put things in perspective, Andrej Sekera is making $5.5 million with the Edmonton Oilers this season.

"Rasmus has already proven to be a pivotal player on our blue line and we are eager to have him back with the team," Sabres General Manager Tim Murray said in a press release. "This deal is a reflection of the hard work and improvement Rasmus has shown since being drafted and we hope to see him continue on this trajectory moving forward."

Locking up Ristolainen before Thursday's opener against the Montreal Canadiens could be vital with the injuries the Sabres have dealt with in preseason. Both Zach Bogosian (groin strain) and Dmitry Kulikov (bruised butt) are working their way back.

Ristolainen, 21, had a career year offensively last season. He scored nine goals and 32 assists in 82 games, emerging as the team's top defenseman. He led Sabres defensemen in games played, goals and assists and was 10th in the NHL in average ice time.

Buffalo has now signed all of their free agents with $2.4 million dollars in cap space to work with.