May 8: The Sabres have made it official, announcing a three-year entry-level deal for Ruotsalainen.
May 5: The Buffalo Sabres look to be close to bringing in some young talent as The Athletic’s John Vogl reports that a Finnish source (Twitter link) has stated that the Sabres have come to a verbal agreement to sign Finnish prospect Arttu Ruotsalainen. The entry-level deal would be signed after the World Championships.
Vogl wrote a few days ago that one thing on Buffalo’s to-do list would be to sign Ruotsalainen as both sides had interest in getting a deal done. The 5-foot-8, 181-pound forward would be expected to start the season with the AHL’s Rochester Americans, but could be an interesting prospect as he is still just 21 years old. He is expected to play for Finland in the World Championships and then sign his contract, very similar to the Sabres’ signing two seasons ago of defenseman Victor Antipin.
Undrafted because of his size, Ruotsalainen had a breakout year with Ilves where he tallied 21 goals and 42 points in his fourth season in the Liiga, one year after posting nine goals and 20 points in 2017-18. He kept those numbers up during the playoffs, posting seven points in seven games. Despite playing center with Ilves, it is believed that the Sabres would be more likely to move him to the wing to account for his lack of size. Ruotsalainen coincidentally is teammates with the Sabres’ defensive prospect Oskari Laaksonen, who the team hopes to bring over in the next couple of years as well.