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FlamesNation Top 20 Prospects 2018: #2 Rasmus Andersson

Rasmus Andersson should be a threat to make the NHL as a regular, and considering the Flames’ overall defensive depth chart, that’s a compliment.

Taken in the second round, 53rd overall, of the 2015 NHL Draft, the 6’1, 214 lb. right-shot defenceman proved a tantalizing option this past season. The hope now is that he takes it and cements himself a regular in the top six, officially removing his prospect status: and it’s entirely possible he does just that. Andersson came second in our rankings in 2017, and he finishes in the same spot this year.

How did we get here?

From Malmö, Sweden, Andersson played for his hometown Redhawks and represented Sweden internationally at various age levels. This included playing in the Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second highest league tier, as a 16- and 17-year-old, registering points per game of .29 and .30 over those seasons.

For his draft year in 2014-15, Andersson made the jump overseas. The Barrie Colts selected him 37th overall in the CHL 2014 Import Draft, and he rewarded them for it, jumping out to 64 points over 67 games in his first year of North American hockey: fourth on his team in scoring, and third league-wide in points by a defenceman. The Flames liked what they saw, and selected Andersson with their first pick of the 2015 draft.

He proved himself worthy of that pick for his 19-year-old season in 2015-16, scoring 60 points in 64 games, his points per game dropping from .96 to .94 as he finished fifth in team-wide scoring, but led all OHL defencemen in scoring. Andersson also wore an “A” for the Colts that season, and was a point per game in the playoffs with 15 in 15, again leading all defencemen.

The 2016-17 season signalled Andersson’s transition to professional hockey in North America. He opened with 22 points over 54 games for the Stockton Heat, finishing tied for ninth in team-wide scoring, second in team-wide defenceman scoring, and 14th across the AHL out of all rookie defenders. He also made his NHL debut, playing one game at the end of a season in which the Flames had already clinched a playoff spot.

Stats, numbers, and everything therein

As an offensive defenceman, a fair bit of Andersson’s value will inevitably be tied to the number of points he generates. He’s yet to score at the NHL level, but in the AHL, he’s already proving himself to be top tier.

League Games played Goals Assists Points Shots
AHL 56 9 30 39 134
NHL 10 0 0 0 8

Andersson wasn’t just tied for third in scoring on the Heat; he was tied for seventh in scoring among all AHL defencemen. His being called up to the NHL had something to do with that, though; his AHL points per game of .7 had him sixth among high-scoring defenders in that league. He was also a frequent shooter: his 134 shots were tied for 21st among all AHL defenders.

Most of Andersson’s NHL games in 2017-18 were of the meaningless variety after the Flames were eliminated from the playoffs. He played one game in November due to injuries, then waited until the end of March to play in the Flames’ final nine games of the season. His minutes overall increased with the postseason out of reach, and he ended up averaging 15:26 a game overall. He did get some powerplay time towards the end, playing 15:37 total with the man advantage. His most common partners at 5v5 were Brett Kulak and Matt Bartkowski.

For a deeper dive into Andersson’s numbers, revisit Christian Tiberi’s writeup on him here.

Those in the know

Cail MacLean, Stockton’s new head coach for the 2018-19 season, spent the past year as an assistant in charge of defensive responsibilities. Considering he would have worked more with Andersson than most this past season, his knowledge on what he’ll have to do to become a regular NHLer is essential:

He is someone who is very confident in his abilities, and I say that as a total strength. He wants the puck in the most pressure-filled moments of the game. There’s an aspect of his personality that’s made for the highest level. So I think now his job is to mold that into: “What is the role that I can play at this point in time with the Calgary Flames, how can I find a way to make sure that I continue to play my game, but if I’m in a different role than I were with the Stockton Heat. What are the responsibilities that I have to make sure that I tend to and grow in addition to my offense and make sure I’m a reliable 200-foot defenseman?” which I know that he’s capable of. He’s a cerebral player and he’s a player that, as I said, likes the pressure. I think there’s a lot of upside in Rasmus and now it’s about trying to navigate the waters.

And Stockton’s Finest, our resident Heat correspondent, had great praise for Andersson based on his previous season:

He showed steady improvement throughout the year. Came into camp faster and more focused. He jumped into the offensive play more this past year as he gained confidence in his play. He was by far the best defensive player, if not the best overall player, for the Heat in 2017-18.

On the horizon

One could make a pretty solid argument Andersson has been ready for a regular role in the NHL since the 2017-18 season. One could very easily make that same argument for him to be on the opening night roster for 2018-19: after just two seasons, Andersson is already starting to look like he has little left to prove in the AHL.

The clock isn’t ticking for him, though; Andersson still has two years left on his entry-level contract. But he’s already one of the top defensive prospects the Flames have, and even though defensive slots at the NHL level already look rather full, he may be good enough to take one over for himself – probably sooner rather than later.


#20 – Martin Pospisil #19 – Demetrios Koumontzis
#18 – Emilio Pettersen #17 – Filip Sveningsson
#16 – Milos Roman #15 – Dmitry Zavgorodniy
#14 – D’Artagnan Joly #13 – Adam Ruzicka
#12 – Linus Lindstrom #11 – Glenn Gawdin
#10 – Morgan Klimchuk #9 – Jon Gillies
#8 – Tyler Parsons #7 – Matthew Phillips
#6 – Spencer Foo #5 – Oliver Kylington
#4 – Dillon Dube #3 – Andrew Mangiapane

 



      • canadian1967

        That’s funny, I was just about to comment that Rasmus seems to me to be like Wideman (circa 2008), skating wise etc… which isn’t a bad thing. He should be able to play in our top 4 and fill in on the top pair for the next 10 years before his skating puts him out of the game.

          • Baalzamon

            Personally I’d say Valimaki is more Joni Pitkanen. He’s not really a star; he’s just a guy who comes in and gives you ~26 outstanding minutes every night. When he’s healthy.

            Pitkanen in his prime was a little underrated honestly. The point is though I don’t think Juuso is ever going to be in the Norris conversation. He’s just going to be a really good player that fans of other teams don’t really know anything about (though he’ll probably frequently feature in discussions as a trade target, more because he fits the “big, skilled, fast” archetype that people always like).

          • JoelOttosJock

            Cute that you stand by your moronic comparison. I get it. I’m still sure Bennett is a #1 center. Far fetched..but hey..dare to dream. I hope you’re right burnward. Just highly doubt it

          • DoooieStevens

            Pitkanen? Well that’s not much to hope for. Although that is more reasonable than the Doughty comparison. Gave me a good laugh this morning. Was thing October 17th came early for Burnward.

          • Baalzamon

            I’m thinking you guys don’t know how good Pitkanen actually was. That’s fine, most people don’t.

            Valimaki I think is tracking a little ahead of where Pitkanen was, but the point here is that there’s a lot of similarities between them (size, skillset, play style). Pitkanen was absolutely a first pair defenseman back in the day, arguably a #1.

          • Kevin R

            LOL we hope he’s a Doughty. Pitkanen??? F***k no. If that’s all he is I will be depressed. Pitkanen was nothing more than a serviceable 2nd pairing blue liner. Right now I think Valamaki has stud “potential”
            Pitkanen was never ever considered a stud.

          • Burnward

            2005-06 Guelph Storm OHL 65 5 28 33 40 -11 14 0 13 13 18
            2006-07 Guelph Storm OHL 67 21 53 74 76 7 4 2 3 5 8
            2007-08 Guelph Storm OHL 58 13 37 50 68 -1 10 3 6 9 14

            2015-16 Tri-City Americans WHL 56 7 25 32 24 -1 — — — — —
            2016-17 Tri-City Americans WHL 60 19 42 61 34 2 4 0 1 1 8
            2017-18 Tri-City Americans WHL 43 14 31 45 34 15 12 4 13 17 4

            Numbers are just that. But he matches nicely and his nasty, skating and IQ has me thinking his on ice roof is there.

            Again, I may be a maroon. I may be craze. But I think this kid is special.

          • Hockeysense9393

            That’s an odd comparison. Are you relating to how many injuries affected Pitkänen? I never knew of Pitkänen being quite the team leader that Valimaki is? I always thought that JP was more talented then he really showed consistently. Maybe he was misused or not quite enough commitment, but he always struck me as a player that could give more. I don’t know if Valimaki is like that. Not from where I’m watching anyways.

        • The GREAT WW

          Because elite players never slip past the top 3 picks…….?
          Gaudreau says Hi!!!

          Just because the Oilers only get their top players from the top 3 picks; even Puljujujarvi at 4 looks to be a bust.

          WW

          • JoelOttosJock

            No. Not saying that, but part of what made Doughty so good was that he was able to step in right away and be a game changer. Players like Gaudreau needed time to develop. Valimakki may become a #1 defenceman, he may become a perennial Norris candidate. Just putting him in the likes of Doughty is foolish. Karlsson, that makes more sense. Similar spots taken in draft, took a little time to develop, etc

          • DoooieStevens

            How does everything turn into an Oilers conversation with WW? I could only imagine a dinner conversation with Mrs. WW. Talking about how the air has cleared up from the the forest fires and BAM, WW would blame it on Chia for burning money on contracts like Russel or Lucic.

          • Hockeysense9393

            Or WW would blame it on BT for scorching the Flames with that crazy contract that he gave Backlund. Great 2-way forwards with leadership qualities grow on trees yeah know…so why are the Flames burning that tree down?

      • Korcan

        Wideman is my comparable for RA as well — improving footspeed is always going to be his challenge. As for Valimaki, he reminds me more of the understated Roman Josi than the flashy Doughty. The potential is there, and if he turns out to be anywhere close to the player Josi is I’ll be one happy Flames fan.

  • Heeeeeere's Johnny!

    So I now want to start hating on Michael Stone, but I know it’s not him. It’s the guy that agreed to give him a 3 year $3M+ deal with a 15 team no trade clause who might just get in his way. It honestly feels like Tre panicked July 1/17. I could argue that Stone is at best the 8th D-man on this team. Phat Ras deserves a legit shot at a spot. If Stone can’t beat him out I think we have to move him out cuz there’s no way that money sits and there’s no way that money is in Stockton. I’d prefer him to be around A’s depth but I don’t think economics will let that work.

    • wot96

      Stone becomes/is a trade chip. At the deadline if the offer from a team he would go to is good enough or after the season if the offer wasn’t good enough or the Flames need him. And they may need him when they reach the playoffs. Health may be the real determinant of whether Stone stays or goes. But I think this is his last season as a Flame.

      Ideally Ras should get some time this season so the Flames can see what he is at the NHL level and so he can adjust. The Flames have to expose him or protect him somehow for the expansion draft so that shouldn’t play into the decision.

      • Purple Hazze

        If we’re in a playoffs spot come TDL day, I wouldn’t expect Stone to be moved until next off season. You can never have too much defensive depth heading into the playoffs.

    • TurkeyLips

      Acquiring Stone was not a panick move, it was done because of the unprotected first in the Hamonic trade. Remember, Andersson was not ready last year. Without Stone our blueline would have been weaker and playoff chances more slim.

      I happen to like Stone. Stay at home R-shot defender who hits twice as much as Kulak and is far better than him along the boards. Decent big defenders (25lbs over Kulak), let alone R-shot ones, don’t grow on trees.

      • Rudy27

        You’re right. I think we here on FN get jaded by the contract $$ rather than looking the hockey value of a player. Stone is still a decent insurance policy with defense being such an important component of a team. Just look up North!

        • DoooieStevens

          Disagree. Stone is terrible. Heavy boots, hands of Stone (pun intended) terrible positioning and hockey IQ. Stone is playing in a era that ended 15 years ago.

    • buts

      Stones not as bad as you say. The guy has a cannon of a shot and will move guys out of the front of the net. Under GG it’s hard to say he’s as bad as you say or anyone from Lazar up the roster. His contract has good trade value compared to others with his experience. He would be excellent bait (with other assets) to pry baby byng out of Ottawa.

    • Hockeysense9393

      I think that BT looked at Stone as the next Engelland, but he hasn’t quite reached that yet, leadership wise anyways. BT seems to like these type of overpay contracts for lesser guys…trying to pay for locker room and leaders on the ice. It’s a show attitude for the team as well. Remember he’s not a bad player, just not worth his salary. I kind of like how he gives depth players like Stone a little more to even the dressing. He does it cuz he saves so much in other areas.

  • JMK

    “Interesting talking to
    #Flames captain Mark Giordano today (story to come) who said that TJ Brodie has been driving from Chatham, Ont., to Toronto to skate with him because obviously the two could be paired together again.” Kristen Anderson

    Thought it was interesting. Shows a lot of commitment from Brodie

  • Off the wall

    It’s going to be fun watching #54 wear a Flames jersey. Hanifin will probably be wearing #55.

    Any guess what term and money Hanifin gets? I’m thinking it’s long term, thus the waiting game?

  • everton fc

    I see one more move, prior to the start of the season. Either Stone, or Kulak, gets moved, to make room for Andersson – IF Andersson is truly ready for f/t NHL duty.

    I actually think Andersson and Kulak would do well, as our 5/6 pairing. But that’s a bit of a gamble. Perhaps. Stone has more value than most here seem to think. At least in my opinion. Teams need defence. He’s available. Kulak, however, is the cheaper cap hit.

  • Skylardog

    Andersson was the second best defenseman in camp last year, but couldn’t break in. This will be a dogfight this season, as 4 guys will fight for 2 spots in the lineup. Hard with Stone’s contract to put him in the bleachers, but Ras should be top 6.

    PP pointman? If so, which unit? Who with?

    • Hockeysense9393

      Things have gone crazier in the league…but I could almost see Ras with Gio for quite a few spells this season. Especially on the PP. I don’t think this will actually be about who makes what, as apposed to who does what. I think Brodie is training a little scared, which everybody should be! This is gonna be a good camp I think.

    • The Fall

      Ras is already a better option and Kulak. GG insisting on LR pairs was a just excruciating. Like pointing to a spread sheet over and over and saying the numbers say you should be better like this… regardless of outcome.