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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 x - MTL 76 47 21 8 200 169 102
2 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 74 37 25 12 216 199 86
10 FLA 75 34 26 15 186 205 83
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 75 36 35 4 207 232 76
13 NJD 75 31 32 12 167 192 74
14 CAR 74 28 36 10 173 202 66
15 TOR 76 28 42 6 198 244 62
16 BUF 75 20 47 8 144 254 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 69 21 28 -11 49
J. Faulk 74 15 32 -17 47
E. Lindholm 73 16 21 -19 37
J. Skinner 69 18 13 -21 31
V. Rask 72 11 20 -11 31
R. Nash 68 8 17 -10 25
N. Gerbe 70 7 17 -13 24
J. McClement 74 7 13 -3 20
A. Nestrasil 46 7 13 4 20
J. Staal 38 4 16 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 20 21 5 .911 2.40
A. Khudobin 8 15 5 .903 2.62