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Rasmus Ristolainen practicing with Sabres

Restricted free agent skates with Buffalo players not playing in preseason game @NHLdotcom

Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen practiced with the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday even though he remains a restricted free agent.

"His agent has asked and Rasmus has asked to be able to skate," Sabres coach Dan Bylsma told The Buffalo News. "[Sabres general manager] Tim [Murray] has said that will be all right, so we will see Rasmus get back on the ice.

"It's great that he wants to. The contract negotiation is between Tim and the agent. And obviously Rasmus is involved, but he wants to be back on the ice with his teammates and that's a good thing."

Ristolainen practiced with the group of Sabres players not playing in a preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Meridian Centre in St. Catharines, Ontario on Thursday.

He returned to Buffalo after playing for Team Finland at the World Cup of Hockey 2016 and is skating with the Sabres to remain ready to play when he signs a contract.

"He skipped the [2016 IIHF] World Championship so he would have a full 16-week training session leading up to the World Cup, so he's more prepared than ever and wants to keep it that way," Mike Liut, Ristolainen's agent, told The Buffalo News. "In the end this made sense to him, at least in the short term."

Ristolainen, 21, had nine goals and 41 points in 82 games last season. Selected by the Sabres with the eighth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, Ristolainen has 19 goals and 65 points in 194 NHL games.

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