GLENDALE - With TJ Brodie out with an upper body injury, Rasmus Andersson will slide into the Flames' lineup when they take on the Arizona Coyotes tonight at 8:00 p.m. MT (Sportsnet West, Sportsnet 960 The FAN).
The Swedish blueliner was summoned from Stockton on Monday, making the quick flight from California to join the team for their morning skate in Glendale.
"Almost every report that we get back is that he's the guy that's separating himself down there," head coach Glen Gulutzan said. "A guy that's played lots of minutes down there, he's got some poise on the back-end, a puck mover, a young defenceman in our organization that, like I said, every day, that's the guy that's separating himself. It's a good game to get him in.
"By all accounts, this guy is getting very close to being a regular at this level, the way he's playing down there. It's obviously an adjustment but he's played a lot lately and he'll come in on the third pairing."
Andersson has had a terrific season with the Heat, shouldering quite a bit of the workload on defence and producing plenty of offence in the process.
Prior to being recalled, he was the Heat's leading scorer amongst those in Stockton with 38 points in 53 games (Andrew Mangiapane, out for the remainder of the season due to shoulder surgery, leads the way with 46 points). That total ranks him sixth among all AHL defencemen in scoring.
He has also taken big steps when it comes to his defensive game. Asked to tighten up his play in his own zone, Andersson tackled the challenge head-on and has been counted on to play a shutdown role at times for Stockton head coach Ryan Huska.
"I play in a lot of situations, play a lot of minutes," Andersson said. "Offensively, I make plays, get a lot of shots on net and play with a lot of poise - just a lot of confidence out there.
"I think nothing is going to really change here, just have to battle a little harder. I've got to play confident out there. Hold onto the puck when I have to, make plays when I have to."
Seeing Andersson's progression, Huska has matched him up against opponents' top players on a nightly basis - a challenge he loves.
"This year, every time I've been out there, it's been against the top line," he stated. "It's fun. It's exciting. I like getting under people's skin and just play a kind of greasy hockey but at the same time, skilled hockey - play with poise, play with confidence. I enjoy it. It's a lot of fun to get under people's skin."
Gulutzan did not have an update on the status of Brodie, who left Sunday's game in Las Vegas with an upper body injury. He will be evaluated throughout the week.
"He's going to get looked at today and then we'll see how he is tomorrow," Gulutzan said.