Player Report Card: Rasmus Ristolainen

Ristolainen continues to leave Sabres fans with more questions than answers.

Total Season Stats: 69 GP | 6 G | 27 A | 33 PTS

Age: 25

Contract Status: Signed through 2021-22 ($5,400,000)

The curious case of Rasmus Ristolainen continues through the 2019-20 National Hockey League season.

Despite Ristolainen having played in almost 500 NHL games in his career, it still feels like we have not yet seen the development from Buffalo’s number one defenseman.

Before you get the pitchforks out, Ristolainen is considered Buffalo’s number one defenseman in the sense that he lead all defensemen in total minutes played (1,573) and he averaged 22:48 time on ice per game.

Not only did Ristolainen struggle offensively but he also continued to struggle defensively.

One of the biggest question marks heading into the season was how would Ralph Krueger work with Ristolainen. After 69 games, it is clear - Krueger has relied heavily on Ristolainen for better or for worse.

Some have pointed out that Ristolainen has improved because his + / - improved from -41 last season to -2 this season.

Sorry to rain on the parade here, but news flash - it is 2020 and + / - is all but a useless stat.

Others have pointed out Ristolainen’s penchant for laying a hit whenever he has an opportunity. Ristolainen ranks sixth in the NHL, and first among defensemen, with 203 hits.

The very simple argument against that is Ristolainen has more opportunities to lay hits because his team simply does not possess the puck when he is on the ice.

Much certainly continues to be desired from Ristolainen when it comes to his on-ice play.

While he remains under contract for two more seasons, Ristolainen’s availability league-wide will continue to be a very big story line.

Season Grade: C-