ColoradoAvalanche.com is profiling draft-eligible prospects leading up to the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago on June 23-24. Michael Rasmussen is the No.5-ranked North American skater in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings. The Avalanche has the fourth overall selection at the draft.
The two things that have everyone talking about Tri-City Americans center Michael Rasmussen as the 2017 NHL Draft approaches is plain and simple: his size and how his skill set is hard to stop.
Standing at 6-foot-6 and 215 pounds, it's tough to miss the strong force that is Rasmussen. Once the left-handed forward sets foot in the offensive zone, his main goal is to create offense from in front of the goal.
"[Rasmussen] has either the best natural instinct or willingness to get to the net and go around the net," Tri-City head coach Mike Williamson said to NHL.com. "And it sounds simple, but a lot of guys play on the perimeter, are not willing to go there, or just are off to the side enough to make it easy for a goalie. But his natural first instinct when he gets over the blue line is to get around the net."
Over the course of the 2016-17 season with Tri-City of the Western Hockey League, Rasmussen totaled 55 points (32 goals and 23 assists) in 50 games before a wrist injury cut his sophomore campaign short. The forward also tallied five game-winning goals and 29 power-play points over the length of the season.
In his first year with the Americans in 2015-16, he led team rookies with a total of 43 points, 18 of which found the back of the net.
NHL Central Scouting's John Williams said: "He's playing with much more confidence this season. He's adapted to playing a bigger role and playing heavy minutes against opponents' top lines and defense. The game has slowed down for him a little bit, and he's just that much more poised. He can take that extra bit of time and understands he can take that time to make plays and score goals."
The native of Surrey, British Columbia, played for Okanagan Hockey Academy at the age of 15 where he racked up 50 points (27 goals, 23 assists) in 59 games in 2013-14 and led his team to a Canadian Sport School Hockey League championship. Following the stellar season, Rasmussen was drafted seventh overall by Tri-City in the 2014 WHL Bantam Draft.
Rasmussen is a true grinder that enjoys playing in the corners of the ice.
"I think I'm a hard-working power forward, I like to use my teammates, get to the dirty areas of the ice," Rasmussen said in an interview with NHL.com. "The most important thing is improving, so long as I work hard and keep improving things will happen."
The Canadian compares his style of play to Hall-of-Fame forward Mats Sundin, who got his NHL career started with the Quebec Nordiques and totaled 334 points with the franchise.
"I like the way he played; he had good hands in front of the net, went to tough areas, worked hard and skated really well for a big man," Rasmussen said. "If I can be a little bit like him, I think that'll be good."
While he uses his size, passing ability and vision to create offense, he also uses those attributes to his advantage to win defensive puck battles.
"[Rasmussen] has good acceleration, mobility and strength so he covers a lot of ice and a lot of range and he's a very smart player," Williamson said, "Put those things together and he gets a lot accomplished"
The young center has a very high ceiling when it comes to taking his game to the next level. With his large frame and instinct to get to the front of the net to create scoring chances, Rasmussen will continue to improve for many years to come and could potentially have a long successful career in the NHL.