Coming in at 6-foot-5 and 200-pounds, Tri-City Americans centre Michael Rasmussen is someone who will likely hear his name called in the top 10 of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Currently ranked 5th amongst North American skaters by NHL Central scouting, Rasmussen had a productive draft season posting 32 goals and 23 assists in 50 WHL games.
That followed a WHL rookie season in 2015-16 where he had 43 points in 63 games. That kind of production is noteworthy for any player in their draft minus one-year season.
The left handed centreman is a big skilled player who uses that size to create plays down low, winning puck battles and drives the net well. As soon as he gets over the blueline, he wants to go straight to the net. That kind of instinct is valuable as it creates havoc for the opposing team trying to box out their net. He skates well for his size, using his long powerful stride to get going. He isn't overly fast but can keep up with the play. The Surrey, B.C. native is also a skilled playmaker that is able to use his size to hold off his opponents, then threading a pass to his teammates.
He was effective in all three zones this past year as he was constantly matched against opposing teams top players. Rasmussen was tasked with creating offence for the Americans as well as shutting down his opponents' best players. The size he possesses allowed him to use his long reach get into passing lanes and disrupt play.
There's no doubt that Rasmussen was able to produce this past season, showing consistency throughout the entire year. Rasmussen started the season off with a bang putting up a four goal performance in the first game of the season. After that, Rasmussen had one 3 game stretch without a point but otherwise never went more than two games without a point.
Finishing second amongst first time draft eligible WHL forwards with 0.64 goals per game and also 7th amongst that same group in primary points (goals and first assists) with 0.88 P1/GP. His 1.08 points per game played ended as the 8th best when looking at the peer group.
The concern with Rasmussen is that the majority of his production was done on the power-play. The suggestion being he took advantage of the man advantage to boost his point totals. When that is factored into his production, his even strength primary points drop to the middle of the WHL. That is a fair concern based on the breakdown of his situational points, but this is why combining the scouting eye and a quantitative approach is so important when making these decisions.
The hulking centre was effective in front of the net, screening the goal, banging in rebounds and rolling off coverage to be a passing option for his teammates. He is almost impossible to move when he sets up in front of the net. He is able to use his frame and size to go where he wants.
Video: Michael Rasmussen - Prospect Profile
Ideally there would've been more balance with his production, but Rasmussen has the size and skill-set that teams will covet. That balance in scoring is something that could balance over time as he gets more confidence in his skillset and using those more effectively during even strength situations.
Rasmussen's year ended early as he suffered a broken wrist in the middle of February that required surgery and thus missed the remainder of the season. The timing of the injury was unfortunate simply because the focus that is placed on players during the latter parts of the season. The aforementioned concerns might have been vetted with some further scouting or more games to allow more even strength production.
Before this season began, Rasmussen had a good showing at the Ivan Hlinka tournament putting up one goal and three assists in four games for Canada. He will likely be in consideration for Team Canada at the World Juniors this upcoming winter because he gives a style of play that just isn't readily available.
With some improvement to his skating and puck skills, it's easy to see Rasmussen in the NHL. Like any 18-year-old prospect, he has some things to work on before he will suit up in the NHL, but the Surrey B.C. native will almost undoubtedly hear his name called early on the first day of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.