The Philadelphia Flyers and defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen have agreed to a five-year, $25.5 million contract extension Wednesday, according to multiple reports but first revealed by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.
The 27-year-old was facing free agency at the end of this season as he was on the final leg of a six-year, $32.4 million pact that he inked with the Buffalo Sabres.
In an attempt to bolster their blue line during the offseason, headlined by the acquisition of Ryan Ellis from the Nashville Predators, the Flyers acquired Ristolainen from Buffalo for a 2021 first-round draft pick, a 2023 third-round draft pick in 2023, and Robert Hagg.
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It’s a lofty investment from general manager Chuck Fletcher despite Ristolainen not having a good first season in Philadelphia — which is par for the course for the franchise at this point — with two goals, 11 assists, and a -11 rating while averaging 21:22 of ice time in 49 games.
Playing on the second defensive unit alongside Travis Sanheim, Ristolainen is a fixture of a Flyers defense that ranks 24th of 32 teams in goals allowed while Ellis — the major acquisition that was supposed to help save the defense — has appeared in just four games due to injury.
The last-place Flyers are now projected to be sellers at the trade deadline, including potentially trading their captain, Claude Giroux. But another name to watch could be Ristolainen’s partner, Sanheim, who is 25. years old, signed through the 2022-23 campaign and could bring in a decent haul for a rebuilding franchise.