Instant Analysis: Flyers make a shock trade for Rasmus Ristolainen

NHL: MAY 08 Sabres at Penguins
PITTSBURGH, PA – MAY 08: Buffalo Sabres Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (55) looks on during the second period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Buffalo Sabres on May 8, 2021, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire)

Taking the $4.5mil Chuck Fletcher saved by trading Shayne Gostisbehere to the Arizona Coyotes and investing in a time machine would have been better than his deal with the Buffalo Sabres for Rasmus Ristolainen.

Yesterday, Fletcher traded Gostisbehere, the 2022 second round, and 2022 seventh-round picks for nothing. Today, Fletcher sent the 2021 first-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, and Robert Hagg for Ristolainen. It’s debunked one clue regarding his press conferences. Fletcher is sharing one idea and executing the antithesis.

Remember, trading Gostisbehere was to be purely a “cap space move.” Following the creation of $4.5mil in cap space, Fletcher trades crucial draft capital and a seventh defenseman for a defenseman due $5.4mil. Gostisbehere was better than Ristolainen in just about every aspect last season.

Currently, the Philadelphia Flyers have $10mil in cap space available. Not bad at all in a financial aspect. The defense is hardly an upgrade from 2020-2021. In all reality, it could be worse than last season. The Flyers have been busy, but they aren’t making progress in strengthening their problem areas.

Yesterday featured enough negligence from Fletcher, not commanding a return for Gostisbehere. Today, Philadelphia paid a steep price for an expensive degrade. Over the last twenty-four hours, this fanbase should learn that doing nothing is sometimes better than doing something.

Why Ristolainen Is A Bad Fit

I’ll preface this by addressing the idea that some players find their footing elsewhere. That’s exactly how the Philadelphia Flyers sold Nolan Patrick.

Unfortunately, that premise of “a change of scenery” comes from a place of discontent. When a player no longer wants to be where they are, it makes sense to draw that narrative. Ristolainen mentioned that he wants to win “if it’s in Buffalo or somewhere else.” That’s different than hiring a new agent to work on a path out of a franchise.

There hasn’t been a season in his career that he finished with a plus rating. Jake McCabe and Brandon Montour have with the Buffalo Sabres. Rasmus Ristolainen notched a double-digit minus rating six times in his eight-year career.

Defensively, Ristolainen doesn’t offer the versatility to play on both sides of the ice efficiently. He’s going to play on the right side, and he’s likely a second or third pair defenseman. Standing back and allowing Shayne Gostisbehere to maintain his top-four placement would’ve been the right move. Justin Braun, in the twilight of his career, had comparable defensive metrics last season. The difference is Braun receives $1.8mil, not $5.4mil.

Sabres fans ought to have a parade in honor of the way they fleeced the Flyers.

Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire