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Michael Rasmussen makes his debut at the World Junior Summer Showcase

Dennis Cholowski and Givani Smith, first and second-round picks from 2016, also played

by Dana Wakiji and Art Regner @Dwakiji and @ArthurJRegner /

PLYMOUTH, MICH. - For a guy who hadn't played in a game since February, Michael Rasmussen more than held his own Tuesday night at the World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich.

The same couldn't be said for his team, Canada Red, which lost an 8-2 exhibition to Team USA White.

"It was all right," Rasmussen said. "We wanted to get the win there but it was obviously good to wear the sweater and stuff like that but we got to do better for sure."

Rasmussen was the Red Wings' first-round pick, ninth overall, in this summer's NHL Entry Draft and was a late addition to Team Canada's roster.

"I just want to kind of watch the older guys and the staff and learn as much as I can," Rasmussen said. "It's about learning here and I am going to watch guys who have done this before. They are all amazing leaders, amazing guys, so I am going to take as much as I can from them."

Rasmussen fractured his left wrist playing for the Tri-City Americans in February and was only cleared for action at July's development camp. He was held out of the camp's only scrimmage.

"I feel good, obviously when you can get back playing and get back to doing what you love it's great," Rasmussen said. "Six months is a long time. I'm thrilled to be back."

Rasmussen played on the wing with center Michael McLeod and wing Matthew Phillips.

The Wings had plenty of their front office members on hand in Plymouth, including senior vice president Jim Devellano, vice president and general manager Ken Holland, assistant general manager Ryan Martin, assistant to the general manager Kris Draper, Wings coach Jeff Blashill and numerous scouts.

"I thought he did a good job," Blashill said. "I've never seen him play before. I thought he skated well for a real big guy, I think it's going to continue to improve. I thought he made tons of plays in small areas, which is to me a big factor to tell. It's easy to make lots of cute plays or whatever but as you get up in the ranks of hockey, you have to make plays in tight spaces and I thought he did an excellent job of that. For me, it was a good showing."

At 18 years old, Rasmussen is already 6-foot-5, 200 pounds.

Draper said he texted Rasmussen before the event, congratulating him on being selected for Team Canada and wishing him good luck.

"You love his size," Draper said. "I thought his skating looked good. Real good puck protection down low and a couple times I noticed where he was putting nice, little puck placement pass, just the little things that you saw. The one time he got to the net, (Jake) Oettinger's a big goalie, big guy and Rasmussen kind of gets right in front and you see him trying to look around. Obviously the score's not great but we thought Rasmussen's done some good things out there for us."

In addition to his size, the other thing that stands out about Rasmussen is his serious nature.

"Certainly he's very serious," Holland said. "I think he was named captain of his Tri-City team a couple of weeks ago and I'm sure that's one of the reasons why he's all business. It's part of the reason why you select him. Obviously there's a lot of other reasons why you select him but we like his intensity, he's very competitive and those are certainly important ingredients we think in building a hockey team."

Rasmussen will be able to use that intensity to his advantage as he works to improve as a player.

"Obviously read some stuff through development camp, someone was saying if he'd just smile," Draper said. "He's obviously a very intense hockey player and you know that he's going to do that on and off the ice. He's got a chance to play at 230, 240 pounds with the frame that he has. He's only 18 years old and has the opportunity to get big and strong."

As the game went on, Rasmussen threw his weight around a bit more, checking Team USA White players in his way.

"I'm a big guy, if I'm not finishing my checks I'm not using my size and my frame," Rasmussen said. "That's something they stressed here, using my edge and trying to get an edge on guys so that's something I work on and something I have to get more consistent at."

After one hit, Rasmussen appeared to be in a bit of pain as he headed to the bench.

"I just got a little winded there, collided with another big body, but I'm fine, just a bit of wind there," he said.

Rasmussen finished even and had one high-sticking minor penalty.

Rasmussen said he learned a lot at the Wings' development camp last month and hopes to carry that forward this coming season.

"I take my nutrition and training and my sleep very seriously and I have for a long time," Rasmussen said. "For me it's a step. The draft was a step, prospect camp was another step and this is another step. Those are all small steps, but I've got a ways to go here."

Team Canada and Team USA each had two teams in exhibition play but will reduce that to one team apiece starting Wednesday.

CHOLOWSKI'S EXTRA WEIGHT NO HINDRANCE: Dennis Cholowski received the Wings' message loud and clear: "You need to get bigger, you need to put on more weight."

So, Detroit's first round pick, 20th overall from the 2016 draft, added 20 pounds since his draft day, which has impressed the Wings.

"The thing that you love about Dennis is he's put on almost 20 pounds since we drafted him," Draper said. "That was the one thing we said, he has to get bigger and stronger, he's doing that. This is really his first taste of playing this kind of hockey.

"He went from playing in the BC junior league to playing college hockey last year, now he's right in the mix with obviously the top Canadian and the top US players. It's good for him.

"This is a great experience for him, no matter how it comes out this week, it's going to be a great experience for him getting ready to come into the prospects tournament."

Cholowski's Team Canada Red was demolished by Team USA White 8-2, but in all fairness, the Americans were playing their third game while this was the Canadians' first game in the WJSS.

"They're a really good team with a lot of skilled players and they came out fast. We were a little bit on our heels and a little bit surprised but as the game went on, we got a little better and just pick it up tomorrow, Cholowski said. "It feels great just getting to be here and being with all the teammates, getting to meet some new guys. The game didn't turn out the way we wanted but I think we'll just get better as we go along."

He picked up an assist and was a minus-2 for the game, but Cholowski wasn't too down about his play after the game. He spent a lot of time reminiscing about Detroit's development camp.

"This year I tried to go in as a little bit more of a veteran, second year, and show all the younger guys around a little bit," Cholowski said. "Just try and impose my will on the ice. I had a lot of fun there."

Since he is 20 pounds heavier than last year he was asked if the extra weight changed his game at all.

"Not really," Cholowski replied. "I just find it's a little bit easier to get in there and knock guys off the puck a little bit. Speed-wise it hasn't really changed anything."

What has changed for Cholowski is his life. He is now a professional hockey player under contract to the Wings. Though he may be on his own, he is completely focused on Detroit.

"Whatever they say goes," Cholowski said. "Detroit's stressing just getting the puck and carrying it a little bit, imposing my will a little bit more on the ice, just trying to join the offense and make plays so that's what I'm trying to do."

SMITH ON TEAM CANADA WHITE: While his Canadien brethren were not faring so well in the early game against Team USA White, Givani Smith's Team Canada White had better luck.

Team Canada White edged Team USA Blue, 2-1, in the second game of the day.

"It's a good challenge for me, my first world J's camp, to come here this summer and see what I got against all the guys around the world," Smith said. "We had a little bit better game than them. We could be a lot better out there. It's kind of sloppy. It was our first game, so guys are still jelling together."

Smith played wing on a line with center Sam Steel and wing Boris Katchouk.

Smith has now been through two development camps and a short stint as a Black Ace with the AHL's Grand Rapids Griffins as they won the Calder Cup, so he's learned a lot.

"I think development camp and going to GR, a lot of things," Smith said. "A lot of little things like getting pucks out in your own zone. You got to get pucks out, you can't turn pucks over. On the offensive side, getting pucks deep and being patient with the puck and holding onto the puck, making the right plays."

Cholowski, who has roomed with Smith at development camp, has seen his friend grow as a player.

"Givani, he's a big guy," Cholowski said. "Big power forward and he's a very good player, great roommate as well. I've had a lot of fun with him."

Team Canada has 39 players at the summer showcase camp and Smith knows there's a lot of competition.

"Just make a good impression for Hockey Canada, go back wherever I'm going and have a good season and see if I make the team in December," Smith said.

Because he does not turn 20 until the end of February, Smith either has to make the Red Wings or return to his junior team, the Guelph Storm.

"I'd like to make the Red Wings but if I don't, I'm not going to be too disappointed because I got another year of junior," Smith said.

Smith had 26 goals and 18 assists in 64 regular-season games with the Storm last season.

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