The Sabres have a definite blue chip defenseman on their hands, as he has already started to put up some quality scoring numbers as a 21-year old blueliner in the NHL. Last season, he was ranked the 24th best defenseman in scoring and the sky is the limit on this upside.
With Ristolainen now finally under contract, they can now have him in their lineup when they open the season against Montreal on Thursday night. He was at camp for a good portion and he has already had the benefit of playing at the World Cup for Finland, so he shouldn't be in need of any rust shaking to start the year, rather, he'll be ready to go.
|Ryan O'Reilly||7.500||Rasmus Ristolainen||5.400||Robin Lehner||2.225|
|Kyle Okposo||6.000||Zach Bogosian||5.143||Anders Nilsson||1.000|
|Evander Kane||5.250||Dmitry Kulikov||4.333|
|Matt Moulson||5.000||Josh Gorges||3.900|
|Tyler Ennis||4.600||Cody Franson||3.325|
|Brian Gionta||4.250||Jake McCabe||1.600|
|Marcus Foligno||2.250||Casey Nelson||0.650|
This appears to be the 23-man roster that the Buffalo Sabres are going to be going with, yet I have yet to see a contract for Derek Grant. Even with Ristolainen's new deal, the Sabres are well under budget, still $4.4 million under the ceiling and they could throw a nice healthy number at Grant and still have plenty of flexibility underneath the salary cap.
Benson was slowly working his way into accepting the fact that Ristolainen may not have been in the Sabres lineup to start the season and that the rest of the team would have to pick up the slack for the lack of the young Finn. Those concerns have slipped away quite quickly, with the announcement and his team is pretty much ready and raring to go now.