Injury Sidelines Flyers Defenseman Before Trade Deadline

Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen is set to miss at least two-to-three weeks for a procedure on a minor upper-body injury, potentially impacting his trade availability ahead of the deadline, amidst what is considered his strongest defensive season despite a high cap hit and reduced playing time.

Rasmus Ristolainen, the Flyers’ defenseman, is sidelined. He’s facing a two-to-three-week wait before a procedure for a minor upper-body injury, as Kevin Kurz of The Athletic shared Wednesday. It was Anthony Di Marco of The Fourth Period who first flagged that Ristolainen’s injury was serious. At 29, Ristolainen was catching eyes from several teams, the Maple Leafs included, especially with the March 8 trade deadline looming.

Now, things look a bit uncertain. His trading prospects? Dimmed, possibly until the offseason. The procedure’s set for later this month, but how long he’ll be off the ice is anyone’s guess, Kurz notes. The Flyers, adding to the conversation Wednesday, mentioned there’s no clear return timeline for Ristolainen. He’s still under evaluation.

Despite a quiet season offensively (one goal, three assists in 31 games), Ristolainen’s defensive game is at its peak. With an 11-year NHL career behind him, his current +4.9 rating is a personal best. When teamed with Yegor Zamula, they’ve dominated expected goals at even strength, MoneyPuck points out. Yet, his $5.1M cap hit presents a challenge for trade talks. His role seems best as a two-way, third-pairing defenseman now. Since his move from the Sabres to Philadelphia in 2021, he’s seen less ice time, now averaging 16:41 a game. And with a contract running through 2027, teams might hesitate, despite his clear improvement.

Ristolainen’s season didn’t start until late November, thanks to an undisclosed injury that cost him the first 20 games. Recently, he’s been in and out of the lineup, missing Monday’s game against the Coyotes due to this upper-body issue. With the Flyers’ defense at full strength, Coach John Tortorella has been playing seven defensemen. This strategy has given Marc Staal more game time, especially with Tyson Foerster out with a lower-body injury. Foerster’s expected back soon, missing Thursday’s clash with the Maple Leafs, GM Daniel Brière confirmed today.

Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson
Alex Thompson is a Senior Writer for HockeyMonitor. With a background in Sports Media, Alex joined the team in 2022. He focuses on providing the latest hockey news, game scores, and fresh NHL trade rumors.

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