Sabres' Ristolainen not worried about being traded

The defensman said he just is going day-to-day

Paul Hamilton
September 12, 2019 - 11:43 am

Photo: Kevin Hoffman - USA TODAY Sports

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Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - Jason Botterill has had calls about trading for Rasmus Ristolainen since before the February trade deadline. Things heated up in this offseason, but with so many great restricted free agents still unsigned, teams don’t know how much cap space they have.

Ristolainen, of course, is well aware of all of this,“I’ve been here six years and seen this business, so you never know where you will be next week or next month and when I’m back home it’s easy to go away from hockey and not worry about things you can’t control and now I’m here and I’m happy and I’m ready to go.”

Ristolainen was asked if he expects to be here next week or next month and he said, “I can’t control that so I don’t need to really worry about it, I’m here now and I guess I will be here tomorrow. I’m ready to work.” Ristolainen added, “I’m not a guesser so I live in the moment and go day-by-day.”

Botterill has maintained that he will not talk about if Ristolainen has asked for a trade. The defenseman said, “Conversations that me and Jason have had are going to stay between us.”

Ristolainen had an interview in Finland where he indicated that he’d like to play elsewhere. He said, “I had the interview back home and I was explaining how I felt and when you’ve had rough years like I’ve had here the last six years and you don’t win much. You get pissed and I was just saying that year wasn’t easy for me, but I wasn’t blaming anyone else but myself.”

Ristolainen certainly was talking like he was going to be in Buffalo. He said, “I’m really excited, I’m in great shape and I just want to get better and help this team get to playoffs and it’s nice to see all the guys after a long summer and I get so excited when I get to put my hockey gear back on.”

Buffalo brought in Colin Miller, Henri Jokiharju, Marcus Johansson and Jimmy Vesey. Ristolainen feels those changes makes them better, “I like our team, the additions we made this summer, I think the team is even stronger than it was last year.”

Ristolainen confirmed that he’s had conversations with new head coach Ralph Krueger. He said Krueger is a man of the world, “He’s got a lot of experience, he’s been all over the map and we have had great discussions with him and I’m excited to work with him.”

Ristolainen has been the type of player that will put 10 really good games together, followed by 10 really bad ones. He said he evaluated and thought he needed to change some things, “It started this summer, I’m in better shape, I feel better on the ice. I’ve changed my training and I feel better on the ice and when we are here, I’ll try to work with Ralph.

“We all know that I’ve got to work on my defensive zone game, it’s not my strength, so let’s make it my strength.”

Under Phil Housley, there was a lot of confusion in the defensive zone. It was obvious players were confused on where to be. Ristolainen said, “We need to talk more and be aggressive and always we need to be on the same page so we know what each of us are doing out there.”

Right-handed shooting defensemen for the Sabres are Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Jokiharju, Zach Bogosian, Casey Nelson, Miller and Will Borgen. Ristolainen is not afraid of that many being there, “I think competition is good for everyone, it’ll push us to be better and we didn’t make playoffs last year so obviously we needed to make changes and add some more depth, so I like it.”

“I don’t think anybody else besides me makes pressure for myself. It doesn’t matter to me if we have two right handed D or 10 right handed D, I want to push myself to be the best I can.”

The Sabres had testing and pictures on Thursday. They’ll have one group skate on Friday at 10 while the second group goes at 1:00. Neither session is open to the public.

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