Flyers Acquire Ristolainen From Sabres

The Philadelphia Flyers acquire Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Robert Hagg, a 2021 first-round draft pick, and a 2023 second-round draft pick.
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The NHL Entry Draft may still be a few hours away, but teams around the league are wasting little time in getting a head start on the trade market. 

The Philadelphia Flyers made a seismic splash of their own on Friday afternoon, acquiring defenceman, Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Robert Hagg, the team's first-round pick in the 2021 draft, and their second-round pick in the 2023 draft. 

It is truly difficult to express fully just how bad a trade this is for the Flyers. 

Ristolainen is one of the least-effective regular defencemen in the entire NHL, someone who's made a career to this point out of putting up empty-calorie numbers on a terrible team while producing among the worst underlying numbers of anyone at his position. 

The 26-year-old is coming off a 2021 campaign in which he scored 18 points in 41 games while controlling possession to the worst CF/60 at 5v5 clip of all Sabres' defencemen. 

Ristolainen cannot drive play. He cannot defend the rush. He cannot defend in his own zone. And he cannot produce offence without receiving help from those around him. Simply put, Ristolainen is a replacement-level defender. Albeit one who just so happened to be born with both the physical frame and shot-handedness that tends to be overvalued around the league, which ultimately allowed Kevyn Adams, of all people, to fool the Flyers into forfeiting a king's ransom for him. 

But it's not just the assets that Chuck Fletcher gave up in the trade itself. No, this is a multi-day catastrophe. 

On Thursday, the Flyers surrendered a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes as an incentive for them to take Shayne Gostisbehere off their hands. No assets came back the Flyers' way. None. 

Gostisbehere, funnily enough, is a defenceman who struggles mightily in his own zone despite putting up decent offensive numbers. And with the $4.5 million in cap saving now afforded to them by the deal, the Flyers turned around and paid even more assets for another offensive-minded blueliner with zero defensive ability who, in a shocking twist, actually costs more. 

In total, the deal breaks down to Ristolainen and his $5.4 million cap hit in exchange for Hagg, a 2021 first, 2022 second, 2023 second, and 2022 seventh. 

Lectures will be taught on the dangers of negative asset management one day using this very trade as its case study. The youth of tomorrow need to learn. Until then, however, the Flyers must live with the repercussions of the actions they made today. 


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