Sabres sign Ruotsalainen to entry-level deal

The 21-year-old signs a three-year deal out of the Finnish Liiga

Brayton Wilson
May 08, 2019 - 9:21 am

Photo: Maddie Meyer - Getty Images

Buffalo, NY (WGR 550) - After weeks of rumors and speculations, the Buffalo Sabres officially signed free agent forward Arttu Ruotsalainen to a three-year entry-level contract.

The 21-year-old has spent parts of the last four seasons playing professionally in the Finnish Liiga with the Ässät program, and most recently with Ilves. In 204 career games in Finland, Ruotsalainen has scored 36 goals and registered 73 points.

Ruotsalainen just put up a career year with Ilves, scoring a team-high 21 goals, and leading the team with 42 points in 59 games. That was good enough to place him 18th overall in league scoring. In seven playoff games, he scored two goals and was tied for the team lead with seven points.

Ruotsalainen is a bit undersized at just 5' 8" and 178-pounds, but he is highly regarded for his offensive playmaking abilities, as well as the ability to finish on scoring plays. Despite his size, Ruotsalainen was an efficient in the faceoff circle this season in Finland, and made great strides in his professional development.

Finland had Ruotsalainen on its preliminary roster for the upcoming IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, but he was left off the final roster. He has had some international experience playing with the Finnish National Team, playing on the 2017 Under-20 team at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada. In that tournament, he went pointless in six games played as a 19-year-old.

As for some clarification on Ruotsalainen's contract, if he does not make the Sabres roster from opening night this year, he will go back to Ilves for the 2019-20 season. Once his season is over in Finland, he can be assigned to the Rochester Americans and play out the remainder of the season in the American Hockey League. However, Ilves can give Ruotsalainen permission to play in Rochester if he does not make the the NHL roster, but they do not have to grant him permission to play in the AHL.

After the 2019-20 season, he will have no restrictions on where he has to play. He would be eligible to start the season with either the Amerks or the Sabres for the final two years of his entry-level deal.

Ruotsalainen will be turning 22-years-old in October.

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