If Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill is intent on shaking up his roster this offseason, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen thinks he'll be shipped out of town quicker than you can say "nine-year playoff drought."
"I want to win, if it's in Buffalo or somewhere else," Ristolainen told reporters during a video call Thursday, including WIVB-TV's Heather Prusak. "I feel like when (the) team doesn't get to the goal that is (the) playoffs, I think you need to make some changes. If changes will happen, I know I'm one of the first ones probably who is going to get traded. It's part of the business and I'm ready, whatever happens.
"But I have really enjoyed my time in Buffalo, and it's home for me."
Ristolainen, tied for the longest-serving member of the Sabres, has been rumored to be on the trade block for quite some time. Interest in his services reportedly picked up last offseason after Jacob Trouba - another right-handed defenseman with size - was shipped from the Winnipeg Jets to the New York Rangers, but nothing materialized.
Head coach Ralph Krueger admitted that when he was hired a year ago, Ristolainen wanted out of Buffalo.
"He was somebody that wanted to be traded and now he has embraced our path," Krueger said in a video call Friday, according to Prusak, adding that Ristolainen was "all-in" this season.
Krueger hopes Ristolainen will be back.
"I want to coach Risto next season. I would enjoy coaching Risto next season," he said. "That Risto always comes with a little bit of bite is what we love about him. I'm expecting to see him as a center piece and a core player in our group next year."
Ristolainen tallied 33 points in 69 games this season, leading all Sabres skaters with an average time on ice of 22:48. He's under contract through 2021-22 with a $4.5-million annual cap hit. Buffalo has a logjam on the right side of its blue line, as Ristolainen, Colin Miller, Brandon Montour (RFA), and Henri Jokiharju are all under club control for at least another year.
Sabres ownership announced earlier this week that Botterill will return for his fourth year as GM, despite failing to make the playoffs in his first three seasons. He's been heavily criticized for his roster construction, most notably the 2018 Ryan O'Reilly trade.