Kris Baker is once again counting down his list of top prospects available in the NHL Draft for Sabres.com. The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft will take place on June 23 in Chicago.
Team: Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Standing over 6-foot-5 and weighing in at 215 pounds, Michael Rasmussen immediately vaulted up the draft rankings with 11 goals in his first 11 Western Hockey League games, highlighted by a four-goal opening night. While the massive winger didn't fire at that rate for the entire season, his 32-goal, 55-point campaign kept his name among the top draft eligible forwards all season long.
As many could probably guess, Rasmussen projects as power forward that can lower his shoulder using his long wing span for a net drive, camp in front with a wide stance as an immovable screen, tip oncoming shots, and bang home rebounds.
It is worth noting that 15 of Rasmussen's 32 markers came on the power play, with many lamplighters coming via his nice touch within an 8-foot radius of the goal mouth.
Rasmussen possesses a smooth, powerful skating stride for a player of his size. He is somewhat raw in terms of skill, but he works hard to win 50/50 puck battles and has shown a knack to create offense out of nothing.
He'll need to become more consistent with his playmaking, but a very solid foundation is in place with his two-way commitment and ability to finish plays in the trenches.
With that said, some scouts will question if he can thrive based on his own skill set during five-on-five action, or if he will function as more of a complementary finisher at the next level, be it as a centerman or a winger.
It's safe to say that Rasmussen will appeal to teams heavy in speed and skill that might be missing that big frame that can make space for his linemates and create chaos in front of the opposing goal.
Even if he peaks a middle-line contributor, the likelihood is high that he will collect his fair share of power-play goals as a pro just as he does at the junior level.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker's website, SabresProspects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter (@SabresProspects).
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