Kypreos: Ristolainen still has potential with the Sabres

Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos joined Howard and Jeremy on Wednesday with the latest on Rasmus Ristolainen

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June 19, 2019 - 11:54 am
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With the Stanley Cup Final ending last week, the action around the NHL trade market has been starting to heat up over the past few days.

Some teams have already started to make trades to improve their roster for the upcoming season, with some notable players like defensemen Jacob Trouba, Matt Niskanen and Justin Braun, as well as forward Kevin Hayes all on the move.

After a disappointing end to the 2018-19 season, the Buffalo Sabres are likely to be a team that will undergo some changes moving forward. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote in his 31 Thoughts blog on Saturday that the Sabres were among the more active teams talking trades around the league.

Rumors have picked up surrounding the idea of the Sabres trading long-time defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Pierre LeBrun reported in The Athletic on Tuesday that Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois is believed to have interest in acquiring Ristolainen. Rick Dhaliwal from Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver reported on Tuesday that the Canucks seem to be talking with Buffalo about a defensmen, and mentions Ristolainen as a possible trade candidate.

Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos joined Howard Simon and Jeremy White on Wednesday with his thoughts on the Sabres and the possibility of moving on from Ristolainen. However, it is his belief that it is not a foregone conclusion that Ristolainen is on his way out, especially after the hiring of head coach Ralph Krueger.

“I think when Ralph Krueger came in, I think it slowed down the process," Kypreos said. "Now that’s not to say that eventually Buffalo will get an offer they can’t refuse. There’s also intrigue that Ristolainen is one of these young, up and coming stars… maybe Ralph Krueger wants to see what he has first before moving forward.”

Whether the Sabres are looking to move Ristolainen or another blueliner, as Dhaliwal suggested for Vancouver, Kypreos made it evident that the Sabres want to move a defenseman in a trade. However, Kypreos did not know whether Ristolainen would be moved by September or October.

However, Kypreos did go as far to say Ristolainen, the six-year veteran, still has potential; citing him as a gifted defenseman that are usually hard to come by. 

"He's got the potential," Kypreos said. "There's everything there that you'd want in a top-two guy. There's also that mean streak that unfortunately isn't as consistent a people would like. He is one of those special defenseman that don't come around very often."

Heading into the offseason, the Sabres are projected to have some substantial cap space available to them to mold together a roster for the 2019-2020 season. According to CapFriendly, the Sabres will have a little more than $20.415 million available to work with. However, there is the possibility that the Sabres will make some additional moves to try and free up some more space.

Kypreos said the Sabres’ focus in free agency may be upgrading a defensive core that includes Rasmus Dahlin and Lawrence Pilut amongst others.

"Could they add a great skater on the blue line? With [San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik> Karlsson gone, it goes to the next wave," Kypreos said. "Jake Gardiner is here in Toronto and everybody believes that he’s now out-priced … perhaps Buffalo may be a fit.” 

You can listen to the entire interview below:

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