Michael Rasmussen, a former first-round pick, is flying under the radar a bit this season with all of the Detroit Red Wings off-season additions flourishing to begin the year.
Rasmussen, 24, is an underappreciated two-way forward who began his career as a center but has thrived since head coach Derek Lalonde moved him over to the wing. At 6-foot-6, Rasmussen brings a nice blend of size and skill to Detroit’s lineup; at just 24 years old, he has yet to reach his full potential.
The former Tri-City star joined the Detroit Red Wings in 2018-19 when it became apparent that he had outgrown the junior level but couldn’t be sent to the American Hockey League. If there is one flaw in the process, that one year is it. Take Detroit’s recent first selection, Nate Danielson, for example. After being selected by the Red Wings, they had a decision to make: keep him in Detroit or return him to junior. Unlike the path that Rasmussen took, Detroit returned their ninth overall selection from this past summer to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Danielson appeared ready for Grand Rapids this summer but must wait a year before making the leap. I understand the rule; it’s to maintain a high-quality product at the junior level, and it also allows young players another year to develop at a slower pace, but it is unfortunate for players such as Danielson and Rasmussen who have seemed to outgrow the level of competition.
The Detroit Red Wings are reportedly working on extending Michael Rasmussen.
SportsNet’s insider Elliotte Friedman recently reported: “It sounds like the Red Wings have been working on an extension with Michael Rasmussen.”
He’s in the final year of his three-year, $4.38 million contract and will be a pending restricted free agent this summer. Although he’s a significant piece to Detroit’s middle-six, he’s not the most polarizing pending restricted free agent the Red Wings will negotiate with later this season or into the summer. Star defenseman Moritz Seider and first-line winger Lucas Raymond are pending restricted free agents, along with a surging Joe Veleno.
Rasmussen began the year on Detroit’s second line, flanking Andrew Copp, skating on the opposite wing as J.T. Compher. The trio quickly became Detroit’s top checking line, and usually, the unit Lalonde elects to play against Detroit’s opponent’s top line. The one comment that stood out earlier this season was when that trio approached Lalonde before the Penguins game and requested the assignment of checking Sidney Crosby’s line. Lalonde obliged. That’s the stuff you like to see as a coach and, heck, as a fan, too.
Since then, Rasmussen has been slid down a line in favor of David Perron as the Red Wings search for some more consistent offense during five-on-five play. Over the past few contests, it’s been Joe Veleno centering Rasmussen and sharp-shooter Daniel Sprong. The three make up a formattable third line. Veleno has worked hard on his defensive abilities, and he’s also been scoring at a tremendous clip of late. That third line is one of the better third groups in the league, and that is something Detroit hadn’t had in many years.
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So far this season, Rasmussen has totaled one goal and two assists. He’s maintained a Corsi For Percentage of 41.0%, which isn’t very good, but is a plus-1 while averaging just over 15 minutes per night. Last season, the power forward set career highs in assists (19) and points (29).