Hi folks. My name is J.J. and I’m the managing editor of Winging It In Motown, a Detroit Red Wings blog for Detroit Red Wings fans. I’m also a Red Wings fan (which apparently isn’t a prerequisite to writing a Wings blog, but I feel it kind of helps when you’re running a site designed for the fan experience). I want to take a minute to outright say that I back anything that has been published on this site in regards to this year’s draft and any of our writers’ opinions.
I also want to say that I personally agree that the Red Wings are so far not doing a great job in draft week with asset management and that they took a big risk going for a guy with questionable even-strength scoring who needs to work on his skating at 9th overall.
Now the tricky part: I’m really looking forward to seeing what Michael Rasmussen can do for this organization in the future and my personal promise to you is to not hold what I feel are criticisms of the team against a hard-working 18-year old. Mostly what we’ve talked about since the pick has been the missed opportunity of taking somebody else. You and I both know that this is always going to be a topic of conversation. If hockey fans love anything more than offside reviews, its’ comparing draft picks in hindsight.
But those opportunities are now gone and confined mostly to the mental card decks squirreled away within the heads of fantasy GMs. Gabe Vilardi? Callan Foote? Timothy Liljegren? They’re not Red Wings, so I don’t care about them. The kid I do care about? He’s not a bad hockey player. I want to talk about that.
I know the comments of our community are not exactly everything, but if you’re a regular, you know that my stance on the “you can’t teach size” argument is that size is only a benefit when everything else is equal and everything else is never equal, but the concerns about the Red Wings’ lacking a guy who can bull-rush the middle of the ice to make some room for others has been around since Robert Lang left (and he wasn’t exactly known for bull-rushing either).
Sure, the Wings currently have Anthony Mantha, who shows promise at that, and Andreas Athanasiou (who doesn’t exactly bull-rush, but has plenty of ability to get it to the middle), but this guy towers over both and already has the kind of size to wear down defenders... and he’s only 18!
Again, Red Wings fans have kind of soured on the concept of worrying so much about this offensive/defensive balance in all of our players, but it is something that’s decently important in a centerman. After a few years of watching the Wings struggle to create offense, I know the desire is to see more of that, but I’ve also seen teams switch to all-octane and that hardly ever works out (it makes teams like Dallas and Toronto more fun to watch, but it doesn’t make them contenders until they fix those shortcomings).
Imagine Rasmussen coming up as the defensively-responsible 5-on-5 center who gives his wingers more leeway to create offense AND who can bull-rush the center.
Power Play Points are a Good Thing
I realize that the concern about Rasmussen’s production isn’t that he scores TOO much on the power play, but rather a general lack of 5-on-5 production is concerning, but at some level of breakdown points are points, and power play points have been a point of contention to this point. If Rasmussen can be a really good shutdown pivot (to complement creative wingers) at even and then turn into Tomas Holmstrom on the power play, then that’s kind of a number of pieces the Wings have been missing all rolled into one (gigantic) player.
Attitude and Work Ethic
We’ve ground this horse into dust recently, but these are both positives and just because I’m tired of talking about them doesn’t mean they’re not what you want in any player.
Listen, I think we can start this conversation from the basis that we know all the criticisms of this pick are on the table right now and move forward from there. Michael Rasmussen is a promising kid and just like any Red Wings prospect, I want to one day debate getting his name on a jersey I’d be proud to wear. I don’t want to close the book on a pick just because it’s one I wouldn’t have made.
Thanks for listening, LGRW