When the Flames dealt three picks – including their first rounder – for Dougie Hamilton just before the 2015 draft, it ensured they wouldn’t be picking until 53rd overall. That’s quite some time to wait until making your first pick of the draft, especially with cupboards still in need of restocking.
The Flames spent that first pick on Rasmus Andersson, and so far, he’s looked to be more than worth it.
Andersson impressed in his draft year by being nearly a point per game defenceman in the OHL, and kept it up as a draft+1 player. Over 64 games, he scored nine goals and 51 assists for 60 points: a .938 point per game player who led the entire OHL in defencemen points. Twenty-two points came on the powerplay, while he also scored one shorthanded assist. His 220 shots on net were also the best in the league.
From a purely offensive standpoint, it was a bit of a step back from his draft year, in which he had scored 12 goals and 52 assists for 64 points over 67 games: a .955 point per game pace. He was still clearly at the top of his game, though. Forty of his points that year were on the powerplay, so it appears his dependency on the man advantage went down, as his even strength scoring went up this past season by 15 points: from 22 to 37.
In addition to his excellent regular season performance, Andersson scored two goals and 13 assists for 15 points through 15 playoff games before his Barrie Colts were swept in the third round. He was the leading defenceman scorer in the post-season as well, and had another 35 shots on net.
Impact on team
It goes without saying: if Andersson led the entire OHL in defencemen scoring, he certainly led the Barrie Colts’ group as well. Andersson was fifth in team scoring, with only one of the four teammates above him being younger. He was up 16 points on the second-highest scoring defenceman on their team: overager Michael Webster.
He was also fourth in team scoring throughout the playoffs, with all three players ahead of him older.
And he shoots right, to boot! That’s valuable for any hockey team, and to have such coveted talent in such a position is a positive boost for whoever he played, or will play, for. It wouldn’t at all be a stretch to say Andersson was a leader on Barrie from the blueline: one they will, in all likelihood, miss very much.
What comes next?
Andersson will turn 20 this October, which makes him eligible to play in the AHL. Considering how he stuck around the longest among junior players at the Flames’ training camp at the start of this past season, and how he didn’t disappoint once he went back, there’s absolutely no reason for him to return to junior.
It’s easy to see him taking a big role or the Stockton Heat in 2016-17 – and, depending on how both his and the Flames’ seasons go, maybe even making his NHL debut.