BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Rasmus Ristolainen walked into the Buffalo Sabres media room on Thursday morning with a smirk on his face as he said: "I bet you guys couldn't wait to see me."
He knew the questions were coming after a summer full of trade rumors and speculation about his future with the Sabres. When asked if he requested a trade, Ristolainen declined to answer.
"I'm happy to be back," Ristolainen said. "Summer was really good and I can't wait to get back to work."
But it didn't take long for the 24-year-old defenseman to start getting pressed about his future in Buffalo.
"I've been here six years and in this business, you never know where you will be next week or next month," Ristolainen said when asked if he was surprised to still be in Buffalo. "When I'm back home it's easy to go away from hockey and not worry about things you can't control and now I'm here, I'm happy and ready to go."
Last season with the Sabres, Ristolainen scored five goals and added 38 assists. He finished with a league-worst minus-41 plus/minus rating in 78 games played.
"We all know that I’ve got to work on especially my defensive-zone game. It’s not my strength, so let’s make it my strength."
Ristolainen wouldn't speculate or answer questions about his long term future with the organization -- but for right now, he's here, and he said he's ready to make the most of it.
"I'm here now. I'll guess I'll be here tomorrow. I'm ready to work."