You can cross off Arttu Ruotsalainen as a candidate to crack the Buffalo Sabres’ roster next season.
EHC Kloten of the Swiss League announced Friday that the speedy Finnish forward, who became a scoring dynamo late in the season and during the playoffs at Rochester, has signed to play with the club for the 2022-23 season.
Ruotsalainen, 24, had just two goals and two assists in 18 games with the Sabers last season before heading to Rochester, where he enjoyed a breakthrough campaign.
People are also reading…
After collecting 18 goals and 33 assists in 57 games in the regular season, Ruotsalainen led the Americas with eight goals in the playoffs and tied for the club scoring lead with JJ Peterka at 12 points.
Included were overtime goals that thrilled big crowds in Blue Cross Arena and beat Belleville in Game 1 of the first round and Utica in Game 3 of the second round. The Americas won both series to advance to the Round 3 for the first time since 2004 before getting swept by Laval.
The expected ascension of Peterka and fellow mega-prospect Jack Quinn to Buffalo likely nosed out Ruotsalainen. There does not appear to be any open spots among Buffalo’s forward group with the two rookies slotted to be in the lineup. Ruotsalainen got mostly fourth-line minutes in the NHL last season and that would again be his most likely spot in Buffalo.
Ruotsalainen was a restricted free agent and the Sabres extended him qualifying offer of $874,125 earlier this month, so they would retain his NHL rights. Ruotsalainen’s decision leaves goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen as Buffalo’s only unsigned RFA.
Through assistant GM/Rochester GM Jason Karmanos, the Sabres made it clear following the Amerks’ elimination that they were interested in retaining Ruotsalainen. And the player denied reports that had cropped up late in the season out of Sweden that he was heading overseas come fall.
“I would like to be a part of the Buffalo Sabres. And that’s my No. 1 goal,” Ruotsalainen told reporters on the Americas’ locker cleanout day.
Facing another season in the AHL, Ruotsalainen instead opted for a change of scenery.