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Photo Credit: © Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Dear Buffalo (And Everyone Else): Ehlers For Ristolainen Isn’t Happening (At Least It Shouldn’t)

Dear Buffalo, Buffalo Sabres fans and hockey fans as well as media in general,

re: Trading Nik Ehlers for Rasmus Ristolainen

In a word? No.

As of late, I’ve seen far too many tweets like this fill my Twitter timeline:

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You darn skippy Ehlers “could fetch better” which is exactly why the Jets shouldn’t do this deal.

I understand that the right side of the Jets defense doesn’t look ideal right now, there are plenty of articles about that already. It’s Dustin Byfuglien, Sami Niku and Neal Pionk, and it’s a Buff long term injury away from being bad with Luke Green the only other right handed shot d-man in the team’s system that could maybe play in the NHL. It doesn’t look great, but it also doesn’t exactly scream “trade the 23 year old forward with 199 points in 298 career games for a defenseman considered by many to be disappointing and not living up to full potential” does it?

Kevin Cheveldayoff is not that much of an idiot.

(Man, I hope I didn’t just jinx anything there. I mean even his harshest critics have to agree with that statement don’t they? Chevy has made questionable, even bad moves as all NHL General managers do, but he’s not THAT bad, is he?)

Look, I’m not saying that the Jets shouldn’t trade for Rasmus Ristolainen at all. The Jets depth is admittedly shallow when it comes to right handed defensemen so getting one with some NHL experience isn’t exactly a bad idea. I’d be ok with the Jets taking a chance on him much like they are doing with Neal Pionk, but therein lies the issue… They already just traded for a young RHD that has a lot of question marks coming into this season, who hasn’t exactly impressed in his first few NHL seasons and may not be any good at all. Do the Jets really need a second young RHD with the same issues?

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Maybe with the right partner and less usage than he had in Buffalo, he wouldn’t be as bad as he has been with the Sabres. There is an argument to be made – as it is with Pionk – that he’s still young enough that he could improve, but if you’re of the mindset that at age 23, what you see with Pionk now is what you get in the future, then Rasmus at 24 should be that even moreso.

If you are of the opinion that at age 23 and 24, Pionk and Ristolainen could and should be better, then Ehlers at the age of 23 is a slam dunk to get better himself and thus a bad idea to trade away, is he not?

If you want to trade for a good, young right handed defenseman with upside, Julius Honka is right. there.

(And no, the Jets shouldn’t trade Nik Ehlers for him either.)

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I’m not even saying the Jets shouldn’t trade Nik Ehlers! I’d strongly advise against it because it doesn’t seem like a trade the Jets could get fair or equal value for (as others have stated in a complete argument to NOT trade him at all) but I am not 100% against it either depending on the return. Want to offer a bona fide top pairing defenseman for him? I’m all ears.

Wayne Gretzky – arguably the greatest to ever play the game and the all-time leader in goals, assists and points – was traded in his career, TWICE. So anyone can and should be available for trade.

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The issue is what kind of value are you going to get in return for trading your dynamic 23 year old winger with speed to burn? It just doesn’t seem like right now the value for Ehlers is that high likely based on the crazy notion that a small sample size of 21 career playoff games where he hasn’t scored a single goal is an indication that he’s somehow not that good, so you’re not going to get a fair return for him.

Sure, trade for Risolainen if you must, trade away Ehlers is you absolutely have to, but Ehlers straight up for Ristolainen? Why on earth would you do that?

I would suggest Jim has finally lost his mind (possible since he’s had to cover the Edmonton Oilers) if he thinks Winnipeg would be “banging down the door” to get basically what amounts to the second coming of Tyler Myers, only with less offensive ability at five on five.

For as much talk as Ristolainen gets about being a power play specialist, it’s probably important to remember that the majority of a hockey game is played five on five and it’s there that Ristolainen isn’t overly impressive.

His defensive work? Not any better.

Look at all that red in the slot area in front of the team’s net – and yes it’s maybe even worse without Ristolainen but keep in mind that this is the Buffalo Sabres we’re taking about and as an entire team they were pretty bad defensively. The point here is Rasmus was right there with the club in being very bad in his own end of the ice.

At best, you can say that Rasmus Ristolainen is mediocre and that at times may be generous. What baffles me in this talk that the Jets should trade for him is that the Sabres have smartly traded for Brandon Montour and then this summer picked up Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju (all three of them right handed defensemen by the way) and now suddenly Ristolainen is “expendable” by the freakin Buffalo Sabres who haven’t seen the playoffs in eight seasons, and yet the Jets who are still considered “in the hunt” when it comes to Stanley Cup talk should just offer up a kid who has 90 goals in his first three NHL seasons for Sabres leftovers.

If that last paragraph has an agitated tone to it, it should because I’m seriously wondering if many of you have lost your ever-loving minds. I just don’t get it. Is it because Rasmus is from Finland and he’d fit in with that whole “Finnipeg” thing we’re trying to make a thing? Is it because he’s from Buffalo and because the Jets and Sabres did one high profile trade five years ago, that somehow makes them trade-buddies for life? Is it because he has “Laine” in his last name? Is it because he damn near looks like Tyler Myers and is as tall as him?

Seriously, are these guys brothers?

You won’t. At least, you shouldn’t. None of us should see that.

And stop it with these tweets. You’re only going to keep giving Kevin Cheveldayoff bad ideas.

  • Rory

    Yeah that’s nonsense. The only type of player that Chevy would be willing to even consider for Ehlers is a younger d-man with term (someone like Brett Pesce, etc). Otherwise it’s likely pure fabricated nonsense. And what about Tucker Poolman? He’s a righty, and will likely be on the Jets if he’s healthy. Honka would be an interesting addition to our collection of Finns. No way Dallas trades him to us though.

  • Drich

    People talk about ehlers lack of post season production, it will come and when it does it will make up for the lack of production.

    Losing Ehlers on the jets end would be stupid on a monument level. Ehlers changes the way teams play the jets in the neutral zone. He is the best player in carrying the puck through the neutral zone because he backs players of with his speed and ridiculous lateral movement to go along with it. When he is out of the line up the jets zone exits looked straight up bad last year. He is a productive player who hasn’t reached his ceiling. To be honest I’d like to see him with Scheifele and Laine again. He is probably the best centre to play with those two if they wanted to keep them together, and Scheifele is fairly fast himself.