To put things bluntly, beyond Nikita Scherbak and Charles Hudon, the Canadiens forward prospect depth isn’t overly impressive. To compound matters further, the Habs top two prospects at centre are Michael McCarron and Jacob de la Rose, both of whom appear destined for bottom-six roles in the NHL.
Enter the 6’5’’, 203-pound giant from Surrey, British Columbia, Michael Rasmussen, whose size and scoring ability has made him an extremely intriguing prospect in the draft.
Before the yells go out about drafting based on size, there’s more to Rasmussen than just a gigantic frame.
Place of Birth: Surrey, British Columbia
Weight: 203 lbs
Rasmussen is a massive individual on the ice, but he has solid scoring upside to go along with it. He calls himself “a hard-working power forward, who likes to get to the dirty areas of the ice.”
He’s coming off a season where he scored 32 goals, which was good enough for second on his team, just three behind Morgan Geekie. He’s an extremely versatile player, eating major minutes on the Tri-City Americans’ top line at even strength and on the power play, while also occasionally killing penalties.
The power play is where Rasmussen thrives, making his home right between the circles and going to the net with the puck. He crashes the crease well, cleaning up rebounds from his teammates’ shots and creating general havoc around the goaltender. He’s got a good release, and with size like his he’s not easily knocked off the puck.
There’s clearly an offensive side to Rasmussen’s game, and one that should develop with a few more years in the WHL, but the reliance on power-play production raises some red flags.
In terms of five-on-five production, Rasmussen ranked 155th in the WHL with 19 points: 12 goals and seven assists. Consider that fellow WHL draft-eligible forwards Cody Glass and Kailer Yamamoto produced at three times that rate at even strength this past season.
With the man advantage contributions, Rasmussen jumps into the top 10 in terms of point production. With 15 goals, and 11 assists in just 50 games he ranked eighth in the WHL in power-play scoring. While these numbers are great, a lot of these goals are tap-ins on rebounds where Rasmussen is standing near the crease or in the slot.
He’s still learning and expanding his game, and there’s a chance that as he’s leaned on to lead Tri-City in the coming season that he’ll start to create more offence on his own.
Rasmussen is a big centre who looks to put the puck in the net. He’s not an overly explosive skater, but is extremely balanced and displays good mechanics that allow him to be elusive when going into and out of coverage. He is entrusted with power-play and penalty-kill assignments, along with taking key faceoffs. He is a savvy puck-handler who uses his reach effectively and can control the puck through traffic. He competes hard, and is always involved. Rarely do you find a player with his size, skill, and smarts with an effective 200-foot game.
Hockey Prospect: 15th
ISS Hockey: 8th
Future Considerations: 18th
NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters): 5th
Michael Rasmussen is likely to be the subject of much debate and scrutiny over the coming month leading up to the NHL Draft. His size and ability to produce points is highly appealing no doubt, but the questions are there about his ability to produce outside of the power play.
While he’s projected to be picked before the Canadiens are on the board, his profile is one that likely catches Marc Bergevin’s attention. Rasmussen works hard around the net, and likes to go to the dirty areas to score his goals. It’s entirely possible to see Bergevin make a move to shift up a few spots to draft the centreman this year.
The Habs need someone who projects as a higher scoring player in the future, and while Rasmussen could develop into that, there will be other players available who project to fill that role better.