On Thursday, the Finnish national junior team dropped Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen from its roster for August’s U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp.
Ristolainen, the eighth overall selection at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, was left off because he’s projected to compete for a spot on the Sabres next season. Buffalo has already signed the towering defenseman (Ristolainen is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds) to an entry-level deal.
This is the second time in a week we’ve seen a team drop NHL-bound skaters from its NJEC roster.
On July 26, Team Sweden announced it had removed Nashville’s Filip Forsberg and Carolina’s Elias Lindholm from the lineup, as both are expected to be with their respective NHL clubs when the regular season opens in October.
Ristolainen, 18, was the third defenseman taken at the ’13 draft, behind Seth Jones (Nashville, fourth overall) and Darnell Nurse (Edmonton, seventh overall). He projects to be most ready for NHL play having spent the last two years skating with TPS Turku in Finland’s top league, the SM-liiga.
The U.S. NJEC runs from Aug. 3-10 and will feature four countries — the United States, Sweden, Canada and Finland. It will be the first major look at junior-level talent prior to the 2014 World Championships, which get underway on Dec. 26 from Malmo, Sweden.