Buffalo first-rounder Ristolainen dropped from Finnish junior roster

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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.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: