FlamesNation Prospect Profile: #6 Rasmus Andersson

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Finishing just a tad outside the top five in this year’s listing of the Calgary Flames top prospects – as rated by the FlamesNation crew – is defenseman Rasmus Andersson.

The first player selected by the Flames in the 2015 NHL Draft seems tailor-made for the team’s needs. He’s a Swedish import who had a good first season in the Ontario Hockey League, and could find himself representing Sweden at Christmas’ World Junior Championship.

Here’s what we know about Rasmus Andersson:

He’s Swedish. His dad played, briefly, in the NHL, and had himself a productive professional career in Europe. He played two full seasons in Sweden’s secondary professional league, HockeyAllsvenskan, before deciding to head over to North America to get closer to playing in the NHL.

Scouting reports on Andersson compare him, in some ways, to T.J. Brodie. Andersson is a very smooth-skating player. He moves around the ice really well, and his ease on the ice allows him to bail himself out of any jams. He’s touted more as a “pass-first” player, with an offensive mindset but with an orientation towards distributing the puck up the ice rather than carrying it up himself. So he has a Brodie-like mobility, along with a slightly thicker build, professional experience in Sweden and a right-handed shot. If he could shoot a bit more often, he could become even more dangerous and versatile.

It’s hard to say what he’ll be at the professional level, but the folks who watched the Barrie Colts absolutely loved the kid last season. If nothing else, based on his performances adjusting to the Swedish pro ranks, international tournaments and to high-level North American junior hockey, we can see that he’s adaptable.

He’s an October 1996 birthday, so he’ll be 19 just after the season begins and could be able to jump to the American Hockey League in 2016-17. With another strong year under his belt, he could figure into the Flames plans sooner rather than later.

QUOTABLE

First year defender came as advertised this year and was a suitable replacement for the departed Aaron Ekblad. When he first came to Barrie, there were some conditioning issues, but he worked very hard to iron those out by the end of the year. Still has some room for improvement there, but he’s shown a great dedication to it thus far. At this point, skating is a weakness, in particular his first few steps. That clunky start up prevents him from being a more dominant puck rusher. Defensively, he’s still a work in progress too. Has momentary lapses in concentration and can lose players in coverage. But he does play with intensity in his own end and I think that’s promising. Offensively, he’s great once he gains the blue line. Incredibly smart working the point and has a great passing touch. He’s a very good power play quarterback and I expect that to be his bread and butter at the next level. I’m interested to see him continue his development in Barrie and he could be an early season candidate for defender of the year.

-Brock Otten, OHL Prospects Blog

    • SmellOfVictory

      “Fat Ras”. LOL.

      I agree that the Brodie comparison is a bit much, since Brodie has always been an elite skater, but I’m sure he’ll end up a better skater than Wideman.

  • piscera.infada

    Higher than I anticipated, but Andersson has the makings of a sneaky solid two-way player every winning team needs. He may become overshadowed by Kylington, but could end up being the more impactful defenceman.

    Also, doesn’t that scouting report contradict your article vis a vis Andersson’s skating? Is it a strength or a weakness?

    • Nick24

      Ryan said that Anderson’s mobility is good. The quote notes his first few steps as his biggest issue that is holding him back from being a player able to create rushes on his own, which from the little I’ve seen of him would line up.

      Once he’s moving he’s usually okay, but his problem is sometimes getting to that point though.

    • Parallex

      “Also, doesn’t that scouting report contradict your article vis a vis Andersson’s skating? Is it a strength or a weakness?”

      I guess that’s in the eye of the beholder. If someone places a high value on acceleration (relative to other aspects of skating) then if his first steps aren’t good then I could see a negative review whereas someone who prioritizes other attributes might think the opposite.

      I mean, I saw scouting reports that Poirier’s skating was a weakness but when I watch him (Poirier) skate I see explosive acceleration, high-end speed, and at least average pivots. It’s true that his stride isn’t Bouwmeester pretty (more reminds me of Freddy Sjostrom like ugly)but I care more about what he can do rather then how he can do it.

      • Parallex

        With Poirier it was his awkward stride which led to questions about whether he’s expending too much energy to get around (ie. tires more quickly).

        IMO quickness (that is, four-directional mobility and the ability to change directions quickly) is more important for defensemen than speed. That’s where Andersson has a bit of a problem. Even Wideman has decent straight-ahead speed, but often keeping up with the play involves more edge control and an ability to manage gaps than actually straight-up pumping of legs. Andersson has difficulty managing gaps because he doesn’t have the mobility — that is, “first few steps” — to do so. Look at Jeremy Roy as an opposite example. He’s slow, but so mobile that it doesn’t matter because he keeps the gaps small and can close when someone tries to get by him.

        • Parallex

          I’ll take your word on it. I haven’t seen Andersson play enough to have a good grasp on his gap control.

          My point was basically that it’s entirely possible for two people to seemingly provide contradictory reports and for both to be true… it just depends on what they value in the attribute.

    • Peplinski's Thunderbird

      There does seem to be differing opinions on Andersons skating. From what I’ve read, his skating stride is a little choppy, but still gets around the ice really well. Brodie is such a fluid skater, so I don’t get that comparison, but I saw one review say Andersson’s stride resembled Ovechkins in terms of choppiness.

  • Parallex

    Nick24, Parallex and Peplinski’s Thunderbird – thanks for the clarification and expanded analysis. Agreed that scouting – like beauty – can be in the eye of the beholder, and skating itself is a skill that has many different elements. As Tavares (among many others) have shown us, skating (both speed and execution) can be improved through hard work and the right training.

    I haven’t seen much of Andersson, so any added insight is welcome.

    • Byron Bader

      The great thing is 2 of Morrison, Hickey, Andersson and Kylington can be total busts so long as 2 of them end up being pretty good. I’d say the odds are pretty good that all four dabble with the NHL and at least a few of them will be very, very good NHLers. The 6th d-man can just be a moderate free agent signing for a few million and that d-core is still going to be incredible.

      • Byron Bader

        I think Kulak, Rafikov, Culkin, and maybe even Kanzig shouldn’t be written out from that group either – they’re not as good prospects as the four in your post but I certainly think they could be NHLers.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    Do chubby 18 year olds turn into good athletes?

    Is that a thing now?

    I’m all for the “baby fat” argument and all, but I’m not aware of out of shape 18 year olds turning into elite pro athletes…….I could be wrong again….

    WW

        • piscera.infada

          Don’t get me wrong, he was an elite talent, but he was so “out of shape” that the “consensus” number one defenseman that year was Bogosian, who was clearly less talented.

          I think sometimes, you have to give 16, 17, 18, year olds a little bit of a pass when it comes to how “in shape” they are. Andersson has great offensive upside. He was a great pick at that spot in the second round, and someone I wanted them to take for months.