PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Flyers are staying busy ahead of Friday night’s NHL draft. The Flyers acquired defenseman Rasmus Ristolaninen from the Buffalo Sabres.
The Flyers are sending defenseman Robert Hagg, the 13th overall pick in this year’s draft and a second-round pick in 2023 to the Sabres.READ MORE: In-Person Classes To Resume Lindley Academy Charter School On Monday After COVID-19 Outbreak
🚨 TRADE ALERT! 🚨
We have acquired defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for our first round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, a second round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and defenseman Robert Hagg. Details: https://t.co/UOBqWNQCm6 pic.twitter.com/vCrkLgY0Mt
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) July 23, 2021
“He’s a player we’ve been looking at for the last three years. We like our defense corps. We think we have some good pieces, but we felt we lacked a little bit of size and physicality on the back end,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Rasmus is a young man that stepped into Buffalo and played a really big role at a young age on a developing hockey team. I believe he had five different head coaches in Buffalo, so [Alain Vigneault] will be his sixth head coach. We’re hoping that with stability and putting him with an experienced partner, another good young player, that he can come in and fit in very nicely with our group. He can shoot the puck. He can skate. He’s big and strong.”
Ristolaninen is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound right-handed defenseman who plays a physical brand of hockey and played big minutes with the Sabres, averaging nearly 24 minutes per game throughout his career.
Drafted with the eighth overall pick in 2013, Ristolaninen had four goals and 18 points in 49 games last season with a minus-18 rating, 193 hits and 68 blocked shots.READ MORE: Eagles DE Bandon Graham Suffers Achilles Injury, Sources Tell Derrick Gunn
“I think it’s all context and what he was asked to do, play in a lot of minutes, had a rotating cast of partners, a rotating cast of coaches. Buffalo is clearly a team that’s been developing and had a lot of turnover in the last few years,” Fletcher said. “We believe that we have a good, really good defenseman now. We have a good veteran team. I think we have some pretty good stability right now on our back end. I think anytime players are slotted in the right role with the right mix of players around them, they have a much better chance to improve and work better. We’re obviously banking on that and we like the skill set that he brings.”
The 26-year-old is entering the final year of a six-year, $32.4 million contract, with a $5.4 million cap hit.
In Philadelphia, Ristolaninen figures to slot into the Flyers’ second pair, presumably alongside Travis Sanheim.
“I would say I’m a player that other teams hate to play against, and I try to be a pain in the ass. I can do everything, penalty kill, power play,” Ristolaninen said. “I can pass the puck. I can shoot the puck. I can play any type of role. Hard worker. I like to hit. Just do anything it takes to win.”
Both Ristolaninen and Hagg were members of the 2013 NHL Draft. The Flyers selected Hagg in the second round, and the left-handed defenseman played parts of five seasons with the team, recording 13 goals and 47 points in 236 games and a plus-13 rating.
“I do expect to have a better team by the end of next Wednesday and that’s exciting,” Fletcher said Thursday. “We have a lot of work to do.”
The NHL draft kicks off at 8 p.m. Friday. The Flyers do not have a pick in the first round after the trade.MORE NEWS: Missed Opportunities Contribute To Eagles 17-11 Loss To San Francisco 49ers
Free agency begins on July 28.