Is a Ristolainen for Nugent-Hopkins trade a good idea?

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Photo credit Photo: Perry Nelson - USA TODAY Sports

At the end of last season, Ryan O'Reilly was the name people started latching onto with trade discussions. He ultimately was traded, and, yet again, the Buffalo Sabres find themselves struggling not to finish in the bottom-five of the National Hockey League standings.

It seems as though the most interesting trade candidate on the Sabres this offseason is defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen. Not good enough to be apart of a list of untouchables, while also being good enough to have value to other teams.

A similar situation is going on with the Edmonton Oilers right now and with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The former first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft is the subject of plenty of articles and trade conversations on social media.

Jim Matheson from the Edmonton Journal mentioned Ristolainen while tweeting about Nugent-Hopkins in a response to an article written by fellow Edmonton Journal writer David Staples.

sorry but this isn't new news. Trading Nuge? There are lots of teams looking for centres but I agree you don't trade a C for a winger. You trade a C for a top pairing D which is why an RNH for Buffalo's Ristolainen scenario is out there. https://t.co/SKYB5wBtjU

— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) March 25, 2019

It might be interesting that Matheson says a Ristolainen for Nugent-Hopkins scenario is "out there". Does it mean that it's "out there" in terms of being talked about by teams around the league, or is it just circulating around social media and fan chatter?

Matheson suggests that trading Ristolainen for Nugent-Hopkins may be a fit for the Oilers, but would it be for Buffalo?

 

The Stats:

Nugent-Hopkins is not the generational talent that many first overall picks are touted to be now-a-days in the NHL. He was the first pick in a 2011 draft that featured a lot of very good player at the top, but no elite players.

The 25-year-old has been, roughly, a 50-point player for his career. In seasons where he played at least 60 games, Nugent-Hopkins has put up point totals of 52, 56, 56, 43, 48, 61.

This season is the first time he's cracked 60 points in a season, with 61 in 75 games. Nugent-Hopkins is not a No. 1 center in the NHL, but the Sabres don't need a No. 1 center with Jack Eichel in the fold. They need a No. 2 center behind him.

 

His role:

A career-high in points has come for Nugent-Hopkins this year playing all over the lineup. He still plays lots of center, but the line he's played most on this season is centered by Connor McDavid, which is a great stat booster for anyone.

His versatility would allow him to either play second line center until Casey Mittelstadt can, hopefully, take over that role, or slide to the wing in a top-six spot, or be the best third line center the Sabres have had in a very long time. There'd be plenty of options.

One thing the Sabres need on their power play is a skilled player to play the opposite flank that Eichel does. Rasmus Dahlin has played that spot the most this season, but it would be in the Sabres' best interest to have him at the point going forw