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Tracking the Storm

Draft Profile: Rasmus Ristolainen

Friday, 06.28.2013 / 9:00 AM / 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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  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Faulk 61 12 28 -16 40
E. Staal 56 18 19 -10 37
E. Lindholm 60 11 16 -16 27
J. Skinner 56 16 10 -16 26
R. Nash 58 7 15 -9 22
N. Gerbe 57 7 15 -11 22
V. Rask 59 8 12 -16 20
J. McClement 61 6 12 3 18
J. Staal 25 4 12 -2 16
A. Nestrasil 33 4 10 4 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Ward 17 19 4 .913 2.37
A. Khudobin 7 11 3 .906 2.60