No Flames player was trusted with more minutes per game this past season than Rasmus Andersson. The defenceman averaged 22:41 over all 82 games being utilized in all situations including the powerplay and the penalty kill. Andersson accumulated a career best 50 points (46 assists) in a bounce back campaign that saw him take massive steps towards being an impact number one defenceman.
Part of the Flames fantastic 2015 draft class (with Andrew Mangiapane and Oliver Kylington) Rasmus Andersson has always progressed in a positive direction.
A junior student of the great Dale Hawerchuk for the Barrie Colts, Andersson was a first team OHL All-Star in 2015-16. Just two years later he was an AHL All-Star selection for the Stockton Heat.
Just 4 seasons after he was drafted Andersson made the NHL full time. He posted fantastic metrics across the board in his first two seasons before struggling in the shortened COVID season. He wasn’t alone that odd year as many young defenceman around the league tended to struggle seeing the same competition 8/9 times in a year.
Andersson was paired with Noah Hanifin for the entirety of the season at 5v5. He rotated between being part of the first powerplay unit or the second one. He also killed penalties as one of 4 defence to regularly get shifts down a man.
To put it into one quick sentence: Andersson was entrusted to do it all.
We tend to forget that he’s just 25 years old and still has so many years to mature and grow as a player. With Darryl Sutter at the helm he’s becoming a bonafide top level defenceman that can play the right way in any situation. There are still steps for him to take on the defensive side of the puck, but he’s rapidly moving in the right direction. His progression should make any Flames fan excited for his future.
These two charts here show how the team creates offence as a unit when at 5v5. It says right there with/without and the sheer amount of disparity in attempts shows how valuable Andersson is at keeping the Flames attack alive. He’s crucial along the right side boards as an outlet when the forwards get in trouble down low. The fun part is to notice that when Andersson is out he’s not taking point shots – he’s deferring to Hanifin or getting it to his forwards for more dangerous attempts from the slot.
Defensively the team tended to be slightly stronger with Andersson off the ice – but those don’t factor in that Rasmus was playing against all sorts of top level competition at 5v5. He wasn’t sheltered from any assignments and was trusted to be a quality player when called upon. Another year of playing this style – with this team and coach – he could get even better. At 25 years old it still feels like we haven’t seen Andersson hit his ceiling yet, and coming off a 50 point season that makes it even more impressive.
One thing you don’t do when you are trying to contend is trade your number one right shot defenceman. Add in the fact he’s signed at a 4.55M cap hit for 4 more years and the only path forward for the young swede is with the Flames. Expect him and Hanifin to continue in their growth and for them to give Calgary a solid top pairing for years to come.
The future is bright on Calgary’s blueline and Andersson leads the pack in that regard.
2021-22 Flames player evaluations
Johnny Gaudreau | Calle Jarnkrok | Matthew Tkachuk | Trevor Lewis | Jacob Markstrom | Dillon Dube | Elias Lindholm | Chris Tanev | Adam Ruzicka | Milan Lucic | Andrew Mangiapane | Tyler Toffoli | Dan Vladar
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- Elias Lindholm finishes second to Patrice Bergeron in Selke Trophy voting
- Flames coaches could be in demand very soon, in Calgary or elsewhere
- Dillon Dube showed tremendous promise despite inconsistency in 2021-22