Sabres Ralph Krueger calls Rasmus Ristolainen a ‘centerpiece’ and ‘core player’

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Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) skates during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Florida Panthers, Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Despite Rasmus Ristolainen saying he wouldn’t be surprised if he was traded, head coach Ralph Krueger expects him to be back next year.

“He’s a centerpiece of what we’re doing here. The National Hockey League is a world of moving pieces. I want to coach Risto next season, I would enjoy coaching Risto next season so that’s probably all I need to say to you,” Krueger said on a zoom call with reporters on Friday.

“Risto always comes with a little bit of bite but that’s what we love about him and I’m expecting to see him as a centerpiece and a core player in our group next year.”

As part of the Sabres virtual locker clean out, Ristolainen said on a zoom call with reporters if changes will happen I know I’m one of the first ones probably who is gonna get traded.”

Ristolainen’s name came up during trade rumors last year and Krueger admitted that was the case when he first got there.

“What I love about Risto is he doesn’t hold back on anything, he tells you the truth all the time so I’ve really enjoyed working with him this year. When I began coaching him and I was the leader of that room he was somebody that wanted to be traded and now he has embraced our path and he was all in on our pathway this year and he attempted to compete at a high level right through,” Krueger explained.

The Sabres drafted Ristolainen eighth overall in 2013 and is still under contract for two more seasons making $5.4 million a year.

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