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Sabres sign Ristolainen to six-year, $32.4 million deal

The stalemate between the Sabres and Rasmus Ristolainen is over. The sides have agreed to a new contract two days before the start of the regular season.

Buffalo has signed its No. 1 defenseman to a six-year, $32.4 million contract with an average annual salary of $5.4 million. He becomes the Sabres’ highest-paid defenseman, passing Zach Bogosian and his $5.14 million cap hit, and is the third-highest paid player on the team behind Ryan O’Reilly ($7.5 million) and Kyle Okposo ($6 million).

“Rasmus has already proven to be a pivotal player on our blue line, and we are eager to have him back with the team,” Sabres General Manager Tim Murray said. “This deal is a reflection of the hard work and improvement Rasmus has shown since being drafted, and we hope to see him continue on this trajectory moving forward.”

The 21-year-old defenseman has evolved into a point-producing, minute-hogging defenseman since being drafted eighth overall in 2013. Ristolainen finished 24th among blue-liners last season with 41 points, including 32 assists. His average ice time of 25:16 ranked 10th among all skaters.

The Sabres and Ristolainen had been far apart in dollars, but they settled on an identical deal to the one signed by Seth Jones. Columbus and its 21-year-old defenseman signed a six-year, $32.4 million deal this summer.

Ristolainen had been staying in shape by practicing with the Sabres, and the signing ensures he'll be in the lineup Thursday when Montreal visits KeyBank Center.

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