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.
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