The Red Wings revolutionized the NHL going through a scouting period seeking out smaller European players. From Nick Polano in the 80’s to Hakan Andersson today, it’s a well known M.O. of Red Wings scouts to look for speed and skill on other continents—size and perceived toughness be damned.
With recent picks like Anthony Mantha and Givani Smith, it suggests the Wings are now dabbling in larger forwards—perhaps that mythical power forward that’s seemed to elude the top line since Marian Hossa. This is where Michael Rasmussen could fit if available to Detroit at pick no.9.
Name: Michael Rasmussen
Date of birth: 4/17/1999
Birthplace: Surrey, British Columbia
NHL comparable: Corey Perry
ISS Hockey: 8
McKeen’s Hockey: 3
Future Considerations: 18
NHL CSS: 5 (North American skaters)
Rasmussen has used his large frame to simply attack the net. In 114 games with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL he had 50 goals, highlighted by a breakout 2016-17 season with 32 goals. His comfort zone was beneath the circles, redirecting pucks and collecting rebounds, but also showed ability to use his shot. With Tri-City he was a power play specialist with 15 goals.
His draft projections are all over the place. Depending where you shop, you could see him crack the top 5, but most rankings have him right in the Wings wheelhouse. With the need for a center, the question is whether Rasmussen can make that transition on the NHL level.
I see a power forward all the way, who muscles around down low. He has an unquestioned finishing touch on pucks. For a Red Wings team that needs more finishers, a player like Rasmussen is tempting. However his all around game seems lacking to be a top-six center. Not only is his defensive awareness going to take time to come around but he’s struggled with face-offs.
Jeremy Davis of Canucks Army wrote a comprehensive breakdown of Rasmussen back in February when his stock peaked. In his piece, he suggested Rasmussen is merely a power play weapon and benefits from who he’s deployed with.
This isn’t to say Rasmussen won’t be a good first round draft pick if you’re seeking a big forward that’s a smooth skater with good touch and vision. If you want to see the Red Wings with more size he could be a good one-two punch with Mantha. There will be similarities between the two; not just physically but aptness in tight around the net. Rasmussen will likely offer more leverage around the boards and in front. He’s also shown himself to be an aggressive forechecker.
Of the various players projected at no.9 I think Rasmussen should be a little further down the list. Many scouts believe he has the tools to be an elite goal scorer on an NHL level. I’m seeing a player who will struggle to consistently drive playmaking as a center but would be ideal as a winger, raising hell around the net. The Wings biggest need is for a skilled center or defenseman. When it all shakes out, I project Rasmussen to be a good middle-six forward, not the lofty Ryan Getzlaf comparison I’ve seen continuously pop up. The Wings have made an effort to get bigger in recent drafts and that’s good! But with priorities in mind, look for size in the lower rounds and save this precious top-10 pick for a player a little more refined in all three zones.