A quick look at Rasmus Ristolainen and his continued connection with a now former Flyers defenseman.
1. Scouting report: A thumper (6-foot-4, 221 pounds) who logs big ice time and hits anything that moves, which has been known to get him out of position. Won’t score many goals, nine is his career high, but five or six is a reasonable expectation.
2. Has never scored a goal at the Wells Fargo Center (14 games).
3. Kimmo Timonen (2007-14) was the best Flyers player from Finland, though Ilkka Sinisalo (1981-90) wasn’t bad.
4. Hails from Turku, a city in southern Finland that also produced Antero Niittymaki, the only Finnish goaltender to play for the Flyers.
5. Had a horrible fight with COVID-19 in February. The Buffalo News translated a story from a Finnish paper in which Ristolainen said, “It felt like my heart was cracking as I walked up the stairs. A couple of evenings there were such conditions when I went to bed that I didn’t know if I woke up here anymore in the morning.”
6. Is on Twitter @RasmRist55, but he doesn’t tweet much. Wise man.
7. Was picked eighth overall by Buffalo in 2013, and is one of six players among the first eight drafted who’ve played in at least 500 games. Nathan MacKinnon (1st pick), Aleksander Barkov (2nd), Seth Jones (4th), Elias Lindholm (5th) and Sean Monahan (6th) also have played 500. Jonathan Drouin (3rd) and Darnell Nurse (7th) should get to 500 within two years. They’ve played in about 400 each.
“I would say I’m a player that other teams hate to play against.”
8. Samuel Morin, whose career has been sidetracked by injuries, has played in just 29 games. He was the Flyers pick at No. 11 in 2013, and is a restricted free agent. Morin and Ristolainen both wear No. 55.
9. Broke into the NHL as an 18-year-old, so his 542 career games played are more than most 26 year olds. Turns 27 on Oct. 27.
10. Had 193 hits last season (49 games) in 1,092 minutes of ice time. That works out to 4.4 hits for every 25 minutes played. By contrast, Justin Braun, the Flyers leading hitter among returning defensemen, averaged 2.0 hits per 25 minutes.
11. Had a staggering 42 hits in eight games last season against the Flyers.
12. Ristolainen played for six coaches in his eight seasons in Buffalo. Chronologically: Ron Rolston, Ted Nolan, Dan Bylsma, Phil Housley, Ralph Kruger, and Don Granato. He’s never finished above .500 nor played in a playoff game.
13. The big questions are can/will the Flyers re-sign him before he hits unrestricted free agency next summer, and how much of his poor analytical statistics can be attributed to how bad the Sabres have been during his career. He’s minus-163 for his career.
14. For instance, he was tied for 124th among defensemen last season with a 1.6 in defensive point shares, which measures the number of points contributed by the player because of his defense. His 41.6% Fenwick suggests the Sabres’ opponents controlled play 58.4% of the time he was on the ice.
15. The biggest goal of his life has to be the overtime winner to beat Sweden in the gold-medal game of the 2014 World Junior Championships. Ristolainen, coincidentally enough, went around Swedish defenseman Robert Hagg before sliding in a backhander to beat Oscar Dansk. Hagg is the player the Flyers traded to Buffalo for Ristolainen.