Flyers invest five more years into underperforming Rasmus Ristolainen
Rasmus Ristolainen stays faking and making it.
Instead of finding a new home ahead of the NHL's trade deadline, Ristolainen has signed a five-year extension with the Philadelphia Flyers worth a shade over $5 million per season, as first reported by Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman.
Ristolainen was originally acquired last summer from the Buffalo Sabres for defenceman Robert Hagg and a first-round draft selection spent on prospect Isak Rosen.
It's a wonder why Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher would look to extend this partnership beyond this season, much less five, other than to justify the trade with Buffalo in the first place. Ristolainen has contributed more than his fair share to the misery Philadelphia has experienced in a season that should signal that a rebuild, or at least a re-tooling, is ahead.
What's worse is that Ristolainen has never in his career lived up to the expectations tied to the top-pairing label and top-four money contract he's earned in nine seasons. Ristolainen hasn't appeared in a postseason game. He has never finished with a positive on-ice goal differential or shot-attempt share at five-on-five. His production rate in Philly has plummeted to his worst mark since his rookie season.
Here's a pretty damning illustration and evaluation from JFreshHockey:
Rasmus Ristolainen, reportedly signed to a 5x$5M extension by PHI, is a defenceman who has continually performed at a very poor level throughout his nine-year NHL career, particularly defensively. #BringittoBroad pic.twitter.com/RK3PD7eU1K
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) March 10, 2022
Earning $5.4 million annually on a long-term contract signed out of entry level, Ristolainen will be just short of $60 million in career earnings following the conclusion of this new deal.
Despite being non-competitive this season, Philadelphia's top four is likely to go unchanged, unless you're willing to make the point that Ryan Ellis should be healthy next season. Between Ristolainen, Ellis and Ivan Provorov, the Flyers have almost 18.1 million — or over 22 percent of their salary cap — committed to three defenders through the 2024-25 season. Ristolainen and Ellis are locked up through the 2026-27 campaign, and will be 32 and 36 years old, respectively, when the deals expire.
The Flyers are likely to flip some areas of the roster before the trade deadline and this summer. Claude Giroux is a pending unrestricted free agent and is expected to be dealt. Justin Braun and Keith Yandle are other potential chips.
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