The 2016 season started out pretty poorly for Rasmus Andersson, who was singled out at the end of development camp for poor conditioning.
By the end of it, he had racked up a solid first professional season, an extended stay with the big club, and an NHL game. He could arguably be considered the Flames’ #1 prospect.
Safe to say that 2016-17 has been a major success for the young Swede.
Rasmus has been a force to be reckoned with no matter where he’s been. At 15, he was scoring over two points per game in Sweden’s U16 league, a point per game in the U18 league, and made a few appearances for the U20 team. At 16, he was playing in Sweden’s second division. Great performances domestically and internationally led to major interest, being picked in the KHL draft and the CHL import draft.
He chose the CHL route, heading to the OHL’s Barrie Colts, and did not regret a second of it. In his rookie year, he finished third in defenceman scoring, earned an appearance at the CHL top prospects game, and a nod for the OHL second all-star team. He was drafted by the Flames in the second round of that year’s draft, their first pick in that draft. In his sophomore season, he dominated once again. He finished first in the OHL for defenceman scoring and points-per-game, was named to the first all-star team.
|GP-G-A-P||Primary points||5v5 P1||NHLe|
Seventeen of his 22 points came from 5v5 play. He may not be a primary driver (which really isn’t his job, as a defenceman), but he’s still a great provider at 5v5.
This chart doesn’t look great for Andersson, but there’s some things to consider. Firstly, he’s no longer a 19-year-old in the OHL, where points come easy, so comparing his current NHLe to his D+1 NHLe isn’t exactly a fair comparison. In his first pro season, he still put up better results than most veterans did on the team.
Secondly, the steady nosedive correlates to the Heat’s losing streak during the season, something that was just ending when Andersson was called up to the Flames. If he hadn’t been with the big club, his numbers probably would’ve rebounded like everyone else’s did.
As always, we turn to friend of the blog and Stockton Heat play-by-play man Brandon Kisker for his take on Andersson’s season. First off, what other areas can he improve in to make that next step to the NHL?
I really like Rasmus’ game and I think he’s been consistently one of our better defenders all year. He’s smart with his decisions and with the puck and he’s steady. Very consistent. As far as I can tell, just improving his foot speed, getting bigger, faster, stronger like every other young prospect is what he needs to do. Apart from Brett Kulak and Tyler Wotherspoon, I see Andersson as one of the most complete players on the blueline that Stockton had all season long.
He’s always had great offensive capabilities – where could his ceiling potentially be?
I think Rasmus could easily be a top pairing defenseman at the NHL level. He’s a fun prospect to watch and the fact he stuck around in Calgary as long as he did (even if he didn’t play) is a testament to him as a player. If he can improve his speed and get a little bigger, I see Rasmus making the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later.
Andersson ticks a lot of the boxes the Flames are looking for on defence this offseason: big, right-handed, and offensively gifted.
He’s going to get a strong look at next year’s training camp. I can’t say if he makes the cut this early, but depending on how free agency breaks, there’s a possibility that the Flames may need him to immediately step into a 5/6 spot next year. A bold prediction would be that he slots in immediately next to T.J. Brodie to start the season.
It’s really hard to read the tea leaves right now. Until things start happening, we have no idea how the defence will look next year and what spots will be available. Though if Andersson can feasibly be in that discussion (you figure that the Flames recalling and keeping him around for a month is a tell that they think of him highly) it’s nothing but good news.
Kenney Morrison, Tyler Wotherspoon, Oliver Kylington, Stepan Falkovsky, Keegan Kanzig/Mason McDonald, Ryan Culkin/Brett Pollock, Mitchell Mattson, Adam Fox, Brandon Hickey, Riley Bruce/Nick Schneider, Tyler Parsons, Eetu Tuulola, Matt Phillips, Dillon Dube, Adam Ollas Mattsson, Linus Lindstrom, Pavel Karnaukhov/Rushan Rafikov, Tim Harrison