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Sabres, Ristolainen 'not close' on contract, but he's skating with team

Rasmus Ristolainen is back with the Sabres. He's not close to a contact, however.

The restricted free agent arrived in KeyBank Center on Thursday as a "good will" gesture while waiting for a new deal. Buffalo and representatives for the 21-year-old defenseman are not close in their negotiations, but Ristolainen will work out with the team during talks.

"Everyone knows how dedicated he is to his training, and he wanted to continue to build on the gains he made this summer," agent Mike Liut said in an email to The Buffalo News. "He skipped the World Championship so he would have a full 16-week training session leading up to the World Cup, so he's more prepared than ever and wants to keep it that way.

"In the end, this made sense to him, at least in the short term."

The Sabres, who have a preseason game against Toronto on Thursday night in St. Catharines, Ont., have a practice for their players not skating in the contest. With the blessing of General Manager Tim Murray, Ristolainen was on the ice.

"His agent has asked and Rasmus has asked to be able to skate," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said. "Tim has said that will be all right, so we will see Rasmus get back on the ice.

"It’s great that he wants to. The contract negotiation is between Tim and the agent and obviously Rasmus is involved, but he wants to be back on the ice with his teammates, and that’s a good thing."

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