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Rasmussen just one of the guys

Wings' number one pick doesn't feel targeted or any extra pressure

by Arthur J.Regner @arthurjregner / DetroitRedWings.com

TRAVERSE CITY, MI. - It's not a secret that Michael Rasmussen, Detroit's number one pick, ninth overall, in last month's NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, is the Wings' highest draft pick since they drafted Keith Primeau third overall in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.

If Rasmussen is feeling like a marked man or any added pressure of being such a high draft pick, he certainly isn't showing it after two days of development camp at Centre Ice Arena in Traverse City.

"Yeah, I don't know about that," Rasmussen responded when asked if he's been treated differently by his camp teammates because of his draft position. "For me, I just try to focus on myself and getting better every day, just putting my head down and working hard so I don't think about that too much.

"It's competitive out here. Everyone wants to move forward. All my pressure is on myself. I think the most pressure that anyone puts on myself is myself. I just try to focus on working hard and focus on my game."

Standing at a towering 6-foot-6 and weighing a solid 215 pounds, Rasmussen was having a banner year for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League (WHL), amassing 55 points, including 32 goals in 50 games played, until a knee injury and a fractured wrist ended his season in February.

It was the fractured wrist that took him down for the season and he's rehabbed hard to get the wrist back up to speed. Rasmussen has been able to participate in practices and the skill drills on the ice, but as much as he'd like to play in Sunday's scrimmage, it's still up in the air.

"I'm not sure if I'll be able to, just because of my hand, but we'll see how that goes with the docs," Rasmussen said. "I hope I can, obviously, but it's up to the docs.

"At the end of the day, this isn't as important as the season or my season coming up. Just kind of playing it safe and stuff like that. My wrist is 100 percent, it's just obviously weak."

When he was drafted, the Wings praised Rasmussen's character as the trait that convinced them to select him in the first round. He is a no-nonsense type of guy. You can tell that he's soaking up his environment and taking mental notes of everything he is being taught in camp.

"It's awesome, learning from all the coaches and players," Rasmussen said. "On the ice, they kind of give you some constructive criticism, stuff like that, kind of just going over the drills.

"Everyone wants to take jobs and take a place on the team and different teams here, but all the guys here are awesome and good guys. It's a good atmosphere here.

"They do background checks on you and check your character. That's a big thing in this organization and everyone here is an awesome guy. There's pretty high character in the room."

Once his season beings this Fall as captain of the Tri-City Americans, Rasmussen believes his five days spent at development camp has set a core foundation on what he needs to focus on to ensure he's a Red Wing soon.

"Every day you got to be at your best and you got to be playing with pace, skating with pace and playing fast so I think that's the biggest thing," Rasmussen said. "It's something that I got to work on and improve on so this is great for me."

CALL ME JACK, PLEASE: Jack Adams didn't realize when the Red Wings picked John Adams in the sixth round,162nd overall, in last month's draft that Detroit actually selected him.

"I was listening to it (the draft) and they said John, then my adviser calls and says, 'Are you happy?' I said, 'Why would I be happy?' 'Because you just got picked by the Red Wings,'" Adams recalled. "That's pretty crazy. Everyone's texting me, 'Hey, is that you?' I'm like, yeah, it's me.

"Ever since then, it's exploded on social media and everything. A lot of people are joking about it so it's pretty neat.

"My real name's John but my mom calls me Jack and in my whole family, everyone calls me Jack so I go by that. I guess the rule is they have to announce you as John or the pick doesn't count. My nickname's Jack, my real name's John.

"Literally no one calls me John besides the Red Wings."

Adams admits his knowledge of Jack Adams, Detroit's legendary coach and general manager is a bit sketchy, but he is well aware of the Wings' legacy and became overwhelmed with joy when he was picked by the Wings.

"I wasn't there (at the draft). I was home. I knew I had a pretty good chance of getting picked but I didn't want to take any chances of going and not getting drafted," Adams said. "I was with my mom and my dad, it was just really emotional because I've gone through a lot with my family and everything.

"My older brother just retired from hockey so being there with him, I just started crying, I was really emotional because it was so much hard work. It was an unbelievable feeling being there with my family and getting to experience that with them."

Like most of this year's draft picks, Adams is a big man. He's 6-foot-5 and checks in at 204 pounds. Last season playing right wing for Fargo in the United States Hockey League (USHL), he totaled 60 points in 56 games, notching 37 goals.

In the fall, he'll attend Union College to continue his dream of playing in the NHL, but he knows his sojourn is far from being completed. "I'm for sure going to college at least for one or two years and hopefully take a step after that," Adams said.

"I'm really excited to go to Union and develop academically and athletically under coach (Rick) Bennett and his staff.

"I'm a little bit bigger, 6-5, so I got to keep working on my feet and moving. I've got pretty good skill and hockey sense so once I get my feet down and grow into my body more, I could be a pretty good player."

SMITH HOPES TO PRESS ISSUE: Each hockey league has its own distinct set of rules and regulations. There is not a universal code that governs the entire hockey world.

That puts Detroit prospect Givani Smith in a strange predicament. He either makes the Red Wings or he must play junior hockey for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).

"I still have another eligible year of junior hockey so either I make the Red Wings or go back to junior hockey," Smith stated matter-of-factly. "It's just the AHL rules. To play in the American League, you have to be 20 years of age. To play in the NHL, you can go right away."

Smith will turn 20 in February of 2018. He wants to turn pro and the Wings feel he's ready for a shot with the Griffins, but the rules are unfortunately the rules.

So, if he isn't on Detroit's roster in October, Smith will again be playing in the OHL.

"It's all about how fast I want to force their hand on making the team. They gave me a timeline," Smith said. Finish junior, then prove yourself in the American League."

Drafted by the Wings in the second round, 46th overall, of the 2016 Entry Draft, Smith is the power forward that teams crave. At 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds, Smith totaled 44 points with Guelph last season, including 26 goals and 139 penalty minutes. He was able to spend time with the Griffins during their successful playoff run to the Calder Cup championship.

He didn't see any action, but it was valuable learning experience.

"Playoffs was really good," Smith said. "It was a long run so we got to go a couple rounds and I was there so it was good to see playoff hockey, how it is.

"Everyone's finishing checks, hitting hard. It was a totally different game than junior. It was nice to go there and see it and watch it."

It also left Smith with a clear indication on what improvements he needs to make to his game.

"For me, being a winger, just like the little things, getting pucks out on the wall, and being the guy you can rely on to get pucks out late in the game," he said. "If you're killing a penalty, getting pucks out. Keeping in the offensive zone and creating offensive chances."

Since this is his second development camp, Smith has become a mentor to some of his younger teammates. It is a role he enjoys and finds somewhat weird.

"I'm older. We have 11 new draft picks, new guys, younger guys," Smith said. "Without guys like (Tyler) Bertuzzi and (Zach) Nastasiuk in here, it kind of feels a little different. I kind of feel like an older guy here but it's only my second camp.

"I know what it was like last year, coming in and not knowing what to expect, everything's going on here. So, it's nice to have someone here to talk to you, someone you're comfortable with."

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