Tracking the Storm

Draft Profile: Rasmus Ristolainen

Friday, 06.28.2013 / 9:00 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Michael Smith
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Draft Profile: Rasmus Ristolainen
Each weekday leading up to the 2013 NHL Draft on June 30, CarolinaHurricanes.com will profile one player we believe might be available for Carolina’s fifth pick. Previous Profiles: Darnell Nurse | Valeri Nichushkin | Sean Monahan | Nathan MacKinnon | Elias Lindholm | Seth Jones | Jonathan Drouin | Max Domi | Aleksander Barkov | Related Links: 2013 NHL Draft Preview | Hurricanes Draft History



Beyond Seth Jones, Rasmus Ristolainen may be a prime defensive candidate to join an NHL team’s blue line as early as next season.

Michael Smith
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The 18-year-old defenseman already has two seasons of high-level professional hockey under his belt, not something many in the 2013 draft class can put on their resumes.

“He’s an example of another player playing in the Finnish pro league,” said Tony MacDonald, the Hurricanes’ director of amateur scouting. “He’s arguably considered along with (Darnell) Nurse and (Nikita) Zadorov in that next grouping of defenseman behind Seth Jones because he has played with men and done very well, too.”

A native of Turku, Finland, Ristolainen has developed within his hometown HC TPS’ system. As a 15-year-old, he skated in five games for the TPS Under-20 squad and recorded a goal and an assist; he spent the majority of the 2009-10 season with the Under-18 team, making the full-time jump to juniors the following year.

RASMUS RISTOLAINEN
DEFENSEMAN
HOMETOWN: TURKU, FINLAND
HEIGHT: 6-3
WEIGHT: 201
BIRTHDAY: OCT. 27 1994 (AGE 18)

Ristolainen made his SM-liiga debut as a 16-year old, skating in one game for TPS in the 2010-11 season. The next year, as a 17-year-old, he logged 40 games, eight points (3g, 5a) and 78 penalty minutes for TPS. Ristolainen played exclusively in the Finnish Elite League in the 2012-13 regular season, recording 15 points (3g, 12a) and 32 penalty minutes in 52 games.

Ristolainen, Central Scouting's fourth-ranked European skater, has represented his country in the IIHF World Junior Championship for two straight years. In the 2013 tournament in Ufa, Russia, he showed a nice bit of offensive upside, recording six points (2g, 4a) in as many games. He added 20 penalty minutes and a plus-5 rating.

“He captured everyone’s imagination a couple of years ago when he came and played in the World Juniors as an underage and played well,” MacDonald said.

The right-shooting defenseman’s top asset is arguably his versatility. While he’s one to take care of his own end first – and to a successful degree – he’s not afraid to throw pucks toward the net, as evidenced by his team defense-leading 17 shots on goal in the 2013 World Junior Championship.

Having shared ice sheets with men as much as twice his age for the last two seasons, Ristolainen possesses a mature two-way game for a teenager born in the mid-1990s. He moves the puck around with confidence and employs his 6-foot-3, 201-pound figure effectively in the defensive zone.

“He’s a big man, and he plays with a bit of a nasty edge to him, and I think that gets people’s attention,” MacDonald said.

Though perhaps a safe pick, Ristolainen could be a top-10 selection on Sunday based on his probable NHL-readiness alone.

“It’s more difficult for defensemen than it is for forwards to [jump into the NHL right away],” MacDonald said. “But, given where he’s been and what he’s accomplished to date, you would consider him to be pretty close to being able to play in the NHL right now.”



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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 77 23 31 -13 54
J. Faulk 82 15 34 -19 49
E. Lindholm 81 17 22 -23 39
V. Rask 80 11 22 -14 33
J. Skinner 77 18 13 -24 31
N. Gerbe 78 10 18 -14 28
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
J. Staal 46 6 18 -6 24
J. Liles 57 2 20 -9 22
J. McClement 82 7 14 -7 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 22 24 5 .910 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 17 6 .900 2.72