Emerging elite young D-Man Ristolainen scores 1st career hat trick
Dave Reginek / National Hockey League / Getty

The Buffalo Sabres drafted two defensemen in the first round in 2013.

One failed to crack Patrick Roy's enduringly disorganized defense corps in Colorado after being used as bait to land the Sabres' current leading scorer Ryan O'Reilly. The other is thriving on the Buffalo blue line under Dan Bylsma, and quickly emerging as one of the league's brightest young blue-liners.

Tim Murray did himself some good.

On Thursday night in Calgary, Rasmus Ristolainen became the first Sabres' defenseman to score a hat trick since Phil Housley in 1987-88.

His fifth, sixth, and seventh goals this season were scored in succession in the third period and improved his total output to 21 points, pushing him into a tie for fifth in league scoring among blue-liners.

He's a respectable minus-5 after compiling a dreadful minus-47 clip through his first two seasons with Buffalo. And while he may not be driving possession as effectively as some teammates, he's had to take a greater percentage of defensive zone starts than any defenseman with more than 500 minutes logged league-wide.

Oh, and that other first-round Sabres pick, Nikita Zadorov, picked up an assist for the AHL's San Antonio Rampage in a 3-2 loss to the Stockton Heat.

Emerging elite young D-Man Ristolainen scores 1st career hat trick
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