BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - Imagine the Sabres with a blue line of Shea Weber and Chris Pronger. Rasmus Ristolainen says he patterns his game after Weber and Nikita Zadorov likes being compared to Pronger.
The Buffalo Sabres have selected Finnish defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen with the eighth pick in the NHL draft.
Listed at 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, Ristolainen is regarded as a hard-hitting player who also possesses a heavy shot. He had three goals and 15 points in 52 games in his first full season playing for Finland's TPS last season. Ristolainen has also combined for two goals and nine points in 13 games in each of the past two World Junior Championships.
Goran Stubb, the NHL's director of European scouting, described Ristolainen as one of the best young defensemen in Europe in his age group. Ristolainen said "I feel great. I didn't expect to go this early. I'm a two way defenseman with the best part on the offensive side. I have a good shot. I play a physical game. I can help the team on the powe play and on the pk as well. I try to play like Shea Weber. He is like my idol. He's a big leader on the ice. He plays physical and has a good shot."
With their second pick in the first round the Sabres selected another defenseman, Russian Nikita Zadorov. He played with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this past season.
Zadorov is 6'4" and weighs 200 lbs. He is noted for his ability to land a big body check. He had 6 goals and 19 assists for London this past season.
Zadorov said "the NHL draft is my dream. When Buffalo said my name I was the happiest guy in the world. I'm a big guy and I play a physical game. I think I'm a two way defenseman. I can score goals and I can play an offensive game."
Zadorov embraces those who compare him to Chris Pronger. "He's big like me and he plays physical. He can play offense he can play power play, he's a leader and he's a top line defenseman."