On the day that the Buffalo Sabres are set to welcome a franchise cornerstone for this decade in top overall pick Owen Power, they have moved out one from the previous decade. The Sabres have dealt defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers for defenseman Robert Hagg, the Flyers 2021 first-round pick (14th overall), and their 2023 second-round pick.
Ristolainen, 26, had 245 points (46 goals, 199 assists) in 542 games in eight seasons for the Sabres and was entering the final year of a six-year, $32.4 million contract. The 2013 first-round pick indicated at the end of last season that he was unsure of whether he wanted to return to Buffalo after finishing dead last in the NHL for the third time in his career.
Hagg, 26, had five points (2 goals, 3 assists) in 34 games with the Flyers last season and has 47 points (13 goals, 34 assists) in 236 games over parts of five NHL seasons with Philadelphia.
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Sabres GM Kevyn Adams indicated on Thursday that the club was looking at the possibility of adding another pick in the first round as part of a deal for Ristolainen, RFA forward Sam Reinhart, or team captain Jack Eichel and now Buffalo has the top overall selection and the 14th overall pick.
“Those conversations happened before where I lean on (assistant GM) Jason (Karmanos) and (Director of Amateur Scouting) Jerry (Fortin) and the scouting staff to say, ‘where are we if this pick became available in the first round? Where is our list where we see a tier, is there a fall off at a certain number? and how does that shake out?’ ” Adams said. “We don’t know how the draft is going to play out. Our list is very unlikely to be the same as every other team, so you’re trying to figure out that piece of it.”