Position: Center/Left Wing
Born: April 17, 1999 (20 years old)
Birthplace: Surrey, BC, Canada
Height/Weight: 6’6” / 221 lbs
Acquired: Drafted, 2017 Round 1 (#9 Overall)
Coming into the 2017 draft Michael Rasmussen was billed as a large bodied prospect with soft hands, good hand-eye coordination, a willingness to get to the net and a strong frame to stay there. All eight of his goals from last season were a result of those very things.
On top of his size and hands, he has an efficient stride and powerful first step (even if his top end speed is not great). In the clip below, Rasmussen changes his direction and uses his stride and long reach to beat the defenseman to the puck and create an odd man rush. After creating the rush, he shows off his presence and patience around the net as he waits out the defenseman, gets the puck on net, and follows it up strong to get the goal.
Coming into the draft, the biggest question mark with Rasmussen was his skating. Almost everyone questioned whether he could skate well enough to be able to take advantage of his skills at the NHL level.
As time has gone on since the draft, the narrative has changed from his skating to his ability to play with pace. In other words, it is not so much his skating ability that makes him look slow on the ice at times, it is his ability (or preference) to not play at the higher pace many NHLers play at these days.
The clip above shows this as well. Instead of trying to use his power, create speed, and drive past the defenseman after he gets the puck, Michael elects to basically glide in and wait for an opening to develop.
While he makes a heady play with the puck and is able to score, by not pushjng the pace harder he allows the lone Blackhawk defenseman to read the play and essentially take away both passing options. This makes the job easier for the goalie as he only needs to worry about a shot from Rasmussen.
If he drives the net hard here, he forces the defenseman to make his read a lot quicker and likely opens up either the pass to the trailer (Evgeny Svechnikov in this case) or the cross-crease pass for the tap in goal to David Booth.
Skill-wise, Michael Rasmussen already has the body and hands to play and score at the NHL level. As he progresses and naturally fills out his 6’6” frame he should be a staple on the Red Wings power play as their best net front guy since Tomas Holmstrom.
His pacing could limit his even strength time, however, and it is something he is going to need to improve upon, especially if he hopes to play center long term and/or be the driver on his line. At just 20 years old though, there is reason to believe he can improve upon this and fully reach the potential the Red Wings saw in him when they took him ninth overall two seasons ago.
Prediction for 2019-20 season
Barring a fantastic camp or some key injuries, Rasmussen is almost assuredly going to start the season in Grand Rapids where he can get a shot at earning a ton of minutes on a top line as well as on the top power play unit.