Flyers Acquire D Rasmus Ristolainen from Buffalo for Hagg, 2 Picks
In the hours leading up to the NHL Draft on Friday night, Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher made another move. As expected, the first-round pick in this year’s draft was in play and it has been dealt.
The Flyers have acquired defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for defenseman Robert Hagg, the 13th overall pick in Friday’s draft and a 2023 second-round pick.
Ristolainen, 26, was a first-round pick at 8th overall pick in the 2013 by the Sabres and spent the last eight seasons with the team. Last season, he played in 49 games and had four goals and 14 assists for 18 points. He was also a minus-18 on a team that finished last place in the standings. In his eight seasons in Buffalo, Ristolainen had 46 goals and 245 points in 542 games.
Hagg departs the Flyers after four full seasons with the Flyers. After making his NHL debut late in the 2016-17 season, Hagg played 235 games over the previous four seasons, scoring 13 goals and 34 assists for 47 points.
In addition, the Flyers sent tonight’s 13th overall pick to Buffalo, meaning they no longer have a selection in tonight’s first round. They still hold six draft picks on Day 2 at the moment.
Ristolainen comes on the final year of a six-year, $32.4 million deal with a cap hit of $5.4 million. This trade appears to be a gamble that Ristolainen will be able to perform better outside of Buffalo and in a different role. The Sabres have been at the bottom of the standings multiple seasons in the last decade and Ristolainen was tasked with being a top-pairing defenseman.
In Philadelphia, Ristolainen will probably slot in on the second pairing instead, but the success or lack thereof in this trade depends on this upcoming season and how his performance in a different role shows.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.