If you don’t know who Rasmus Ristolainen is by now, maybe you should pay more attention.
The 21-year old Buffalo Sabres defenseman has played at the highest level of his young career through the first two months of the season. With four goals and 14 assists heading into action Thursday night, the Turku, Finland native is on pace to record 53 points this season. It would be quite the accomplishment for any young player, let alone a defenseman at this stage of his career.
Ristolainen has shown excellent ability to not only play sound in his own end, but produce in different scenarios in the offensive zone. Fans saw no better example of that than during Buffalo’s game against the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
Ristolainen tallied three goals in a 12-minute span for the Sabres to record his first-career hat trick. His second and third goals helped draw Buffalo even with the Flames, though they would ultimately fall 4-3.
Ristolainen is the first Sabres defenseman to record a hat trick since Hall of Famer Phil Housley did it in January of 1988 against the New Jersey Devils. For Ristolainen to be in company like Housley, that can only bode well for how is career is going to ultimately turn out.
The budding star is well on his way to elite status in the NHL. It’s time you get to know him.
Michael is a former Managing Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s covered the Buffalo Sabres, along with the NHL in general, for various outlets since 2009. His work has been featured on outlets such as Yahoo, Sports Illustrated and Fox Sports.