Could Ristolainen be on the move?

Sports

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) looks to pass during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Thursday, March 14, 2019, in Buffalo N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

There’s no denying there have been plenty of trade rumors surrounding Rasmus Ristolainen since the Sabres’ season ended in April.

When asked if he needed a chance of scenery as he cleaned out his locker, the defenseman acknowledged he knew changes would be coming.

“Sometimes you can’t control, like the last few years, there’s been guys who are leaving but I feel the season only ended two days ago and I’ve only been focusing on everyday,” Ristolainen said back in April. “You don’t think about the future. It’s too early to say what’s going to happen. It’s too soon to say anything.”

The rumors only intensified and continued to swirl on Friday after General Manager Jason Botterill acquired Colin Miller, a right shot defenseman, from Vegas.

“Yeah, there’s going to be rumors because he’s a player that teams want to go after and that teams want to have,” Botterill told reporters during Development Camp on Saturday.

“It’s part of the reason why we wanted to bring in Colin Miller into the group. Right shot defenseman under good contracts in both Risto and Colin Miller so, I always think there is a demand for those type of players.”

Botterill added he’s been encouraged with the talks between new head coach Ralph Krueger, the organization and Ristolainen, but wouldn’t detail whether the defenseman had requested a trade.

“I’m not going to get into conversations I have with my players and I know however I answer that question is going to have speculation all over it,” he said. “My conversations with a player i’m going to keep that between myself and the player.”

The Sabres now have an abundance of right shot D-men on the blueline with Miller, Brandon Montour, Casey Nelson, Zach Bogosian and Ristolainen.

However, with Bogosian undergoing hip surgery and likely to miss the start of the season, Botterill said the addition of Miller gives the Blue & Gold some options.

Bogosian hasn’t suited up in at least 81 games since his second year with the Atlanta Thrashers during the 2009-2010 season.

Since joining Buffalo at the trade deadline in 2014, the 28-year-old has been injury plagued and has suited up in 203 of a possible 328 games over the last four seasons.

“It gives Ralph flexibility with the lineup,” Botterill added on the Miller trade. “You look at our defense corps the last couple years, we’ve dealt with injuries. We wanted to improve our competition, improve our depth and that’s why we made the move.”

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