Sabres RFA defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen has reported to the team despite being unsigned, notes John Vogl of the Buffalo News. Both Ristolainen and his agent Mike Liut asked for the 21 year old to be allowed to skate with the team, which has been approved by GM Tim Murray.
Despite this development, it should not be construed as a sign that the two sides are close on a contract. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported on Wednesday that the two sides are at least $1MM apart per season on a new deal. It does, however, remain noteworthy as it is very rare that an RFA will skate with a team despite being unsigned. Most players simply stay away until a new deal is done.
Last season, Ristolainen had a career year, scoring nine goals while adding 32 assists while playing all 82 games for the first time. He also logged an average of 25:17 per game in ice time, ranking first on the team. He is expected to once again by Buffalo’s top blueliner once a new contract is signed.
More news out of the Atlantic Division:
- Tampa Bay RFA right winger Nikita Kucherov will not report to camp without a contract like Ristolainen is, reports Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times. GM Steve Yzerman remains “very hopeful” that a deal will get done although the two sides appear to still be a ways apart on a new deal. The Lightning have roughly $5.5MM in cap space according to Cap Friendly but it will likely take more than that to get the 23 year old re-signed.
- Red Wings prospect winger Anthony Mantha was asked to put on weight this offseason and a result, he often ate seven or eight times per day, writes Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press. Mantha, Detroit’s first round pick (20th overall) in 2013, completed his second pro season last year, spending most of it with their AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids. He did get into ten games with the Red Wings though, scoring twice while adding an assist. The 22 year old is expected to contend for a roster spot this season but his waiver exemption could potentially work against him if someone else who is waiver eligible stands out.
- Despite missing most of last season with concussion problems and suffering another concussion over the weekend, Senators left winger Clarke MacArthur has no plans to retire, reports Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun. In a statement released today, the 31 year old stated that he intends to return to the lineup at some point this season. MacArthur has four years remaining on a five year deal signed back in August of 2014 with a cap hit of $4.65MM. If he is expected to miss considerable time (which seems likely at this point), he would be eligible to be placed on Long-Term Injury Reserve.
- 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews is expected to make his Toronto preseason debut on Friday, notes the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby. Matthews recently joined the team after suiting up for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey, where he had three points (2-1-3) in three games.