For many Red Wings fans, the Wings choosing Michael Rasmussen 9th overall was somewhere between surprising and rage inducing. Many of us didn’t really know what to think of Rasmussen, and there’s been a lot of conflicting information floating around. One of the things I heard from many scouts, was that Rasmussen was big, but his skating wasn’t great. As I watched Rasmussen put through the skill drill paces today, I was baffled by the notion that his skating is a weakness. I talked about his skating a little bit yesterday, and after today’s drills I’m even more baffled by those claims.
Some players struggled a lot with these drills. Givani Smith was having a tough time keeping the puck on his stick and keeping his feet on the ice. The first couple times David Pope went through, his puck didn’t want to go through the holes at all. I say that not at all to pick on those two guys, but to give some context for how well Rasmussen handled them. Please keep in mind, these drills are designed to expose weaknesses so that the coaching staff can help players improve upon them. So there are no bad marks for messing up or struggling, the coaches all emphasized this to the players repeatedly.
Before I expound any further, let’s just take a look at a few clips of Rasmussen going through the drills we saw yesterday. It’s also important to remember as Rasmussen goes through this camp, that he’s still recovering from a fractured wrist he suffered in late February. He says it’s still pretty sore and weak and he’s not sure if he’ll be able to scrimmage tomorrow or not.
As 6th round pick Jack Adams (#74) demonstrates, this drill isn’t as easy as Rasmussen makes it look.
Rasmussen made these drills look so smooth and elegant, and that’s a reflection of his on ice style.
There are many components of skating and I think some confusion arises when people interpret a “skating weakness” to mean different things. Here’s what I think of Rasmussen so far.
Speed and stride: Rasmussen has long legs, so he covers a lot of ice with a single stride. I suspect some people look at his skating and interpret fewer strides to mean that he’s either not trying hard, or isn’t skating fast. Similar to the pervasive perception that Johan Franzen and Anthony Mantha weren’t “trying hard” or moving their feet enough. Rasmussen doesn’t have to take as many strides to move fast and he also has to make sure he’s not over-skating his teammates. As I mentioned in the development camp day 1 article, he has a fluid, gracefulness to his stride and he looks to me like he picks up speed quickly as a result. I didn’t see anything that indicated he’s a slow skater, and he’s certainly not clunky or choppy. So far, I believe his skating is one of his strengths.
He seems to have great balance on his skates, and even when going through the one on one and one on two battling drills, he stayed on his feet despite the physicality. Skating looks like it’s easy for him and he’s loose and relaxed.
Maneuverability and Efficiency
I’m not completely sure how to explain this aspect, but I’m going to try anyway. Rasmussen has great range of motion and flexibility in his hips that allows him to change direction, make adjustments, and maneuver around obstacles without moving his upper body much or losing the puck. Some players almost have to turn their bodies in order to turn their feet, or they have to turn their shoulders and upper body along with their hips. In this respect, Rasmussen’s style reminds me of Andreas Athanasiou or Dylan Larkin. Rasmussen is able to make adjustments on the fly without having to move much of his body at all, and I think that makes him more efficient. He made the drills above look so easy and smooth, and I can tell you that wasn’t the case with a majority of the players.
Rasmussen sat out some of the shooting and battling drills today because of his wrist injury. And the ones he did participate in he wasn’t able to perform at 100%. He does like to drive the net and either try to tip in shots, or dig around for rebounds. So far I haven’t seen anything I don’t like. My guess is we won’t get to see him scrimmage tomorrow, but I wish we could see him at 100%.
The more I see of Michael Rasmussen, the more I like him.