The 2015 draft was a good one for the Flames. They traded a collection of picks for Dougie Hamilton, but that didn’t stop them from picking up a number of quality prospects later on, including 6′, 210 lb. defender Rasmus Andersson.
The Malmo, Sweden native was grabbed with the Flames’ second round pick (53rd overall), despite leading all draft eligible OHL defensemen in scoring with 12 goals and 64 points in 67 games. He has rapidly become considered of the club’s best prospects and may press for an NHL spot sooner rather than later. He came in at #6 for us last year.
A brief history
At 53rd overall, Andersson represented one of the best value draft picks available. The projection project shows that Andersson has a 75% chance of becoming an NHL player based on his results. Of the 19 comparable players, 10 became first pairing guys and four elite. Those arrows are some pointing in the right direction.
Andersson’s point pace didn’t improve this year, but it didn’t fall back either. His 60 points in 64 games means he finishes his junior career with 124 points in 131 games, good for a PPG pace of 0.95. And while scoring points isn’t a guarantee of success, getting a lot of them in junior certainly improves a kid’s chances:
Andersson only spent two years in the CHL because he was playing pro hockey in Sweden before jumping the pond. Andersson made the Malmo Redhawks of SWE-1 as a 16-year old (!) in 2012 and scored three goals and 13 points in 43 games in his 17/18 year old season there.
Making a pro team and playing regularly is also another good sign for NHL prospects. Being able to hold your own against grown men as a teenager is a strong indication of future success.
The lone concern that has been raised about Andersson so far is his conditioning. He played heavy at 210 pounds in the OHL and visibly struggled in early rushes in the Flames’ training and prospect camps. One of the big stumbling blocks for kids is keeping up with the pace, speed and schedule of hockey at the highest levels. In order to take the next step, Andersson will likely have to improve his personal habits a bit. Luckily, that can be taught.
We talked with Future Considerations scout Scott Wheeler about Andersson and what he might look like as he (re-)enters the pro game this year.
KW: Andersson’s conditioning seems to be a primary concern with the player. Would you say learning to be a pro is going to be Andersson’s main obstacle overall?
SW: There’s no question Andersson could stand to be in better shape. He isn’t a tall defensemen by any stretch, but he has added considerable weight to his frame. It’s a blessing and a curse though, in that he needs to play a physical style to be effective and his strength is one of his biggest assets. His longevity won’t be a concern so long as he is training well though.
KW: Would taking him out of a situation where he’s just better than the other kids and doesn’t have to work be best for his development?
SW: I think at this point, turning pro is Andersson’s only real option. He’s fresh off back-to-back seasons where he was named a Second and First All-Star Team member as one of the OHL’s four best defensemen in consecutive years. And last year, after leading OHL defensemen in points, he didn’t slow down in the playoffs and only continued to dominate.
KW: What is Andersson’s ceiling in the NHL?
SW: At this point, if Andersson can continue to fine tune his offensive game while maturing as a defender, there’s no reason to believe he can’t become a reliable two-way, top-four defenseman at the NHL level. His talent certainly won’t hold him back. Despite not having a first round pick, the Flames did well with Andersson, Kylington and Mangiapane at the 2015 draft.
What Comes Next?
Andersson isn’t quite a bluechip prospect, but he’s close. He played against men at a young age and was one of the highest scoring junior defenders during his time in the OHL. He’s got NHL size and the only real concern about the player is conditioning.
If he can acclimate himself to the AHL this year – both on the ice and off – he’ll be on track to cracking the big team’s roster before his 22nd birthday.
|#20 – Ryan Culkin||#19 – Linus Lindstrom|
|#18 – Morgan Klimchuk||#17 – Mason McDonald|
|#16 – Brett Pollock||#15 – Matthew Phillips|
|#14 – Dillon Dube||#13 – Emile Poirier|
|#12 – Brett Kulak||#11 – Mark Jankowski|
|#10 – Brandon Hickey||#9 – Daniel Pribyl|
|#8 – Adam Fox||#7 – Tyler Parsons|
|#6 – Andrew Mangiapane||#5 – Oliver Kylington|