For the third straight spring, the Buffalo Sabres have signed a standout European player to fill a need.
This morning, the Sabres officially announced Finnish center Arttu Ruotsalainen has inked a three-year, entry-level contract.
The 5-foot-8, 179-pound Ruotsalainen, 21, spent the last four seasons playing at home in SM-liiga. In 2018-19, he scored 21 goals and a team-high 42 points in 59 games for Ilves. His goal total ranked ninth in the league.
The Sabres, of course, need more forward depth and scoring.
Ruotsalainen led all SM-liiga forwards in average ice time (21 minutes, 5 seconds an outing) and faceoffs (1,216). He won 54.9 percent of his draws.
In 204 regular-season appearances with SM-liiga, he compiled 36 goals and 73 points.
Ruotsalainen represented Finland at the 2016 World Junior Championship. He also played with the Finnish national team for the first time in 2018-19.
The Sabres’ other recent European signings haven’t made a huge impact.
Defenseman Lawrence Pilut played 33 games with the Sabres in 2018-19 following a huge campaign in the Swedish Hockey League. Pilut earned a long recall and a spot in the AHL All-Star game thanks to a torrid start with the Rochester Americans.
Pilut, 23, could earn a regular gig in Buffalo next season.
Antipin, 26, spent 2018-19 back in the KHL.