The regular season is less than a week away and Michael Rasmussen still finds himself on the Red Wings roster. Because of this, there has been some chatter about him possibly making the opening night roster and getting a spot on the full-time roster, or at least a 9 game tryout. Yes, Rasmussen has played well so far in the preseason, netting 3 goals and making smart decisions along the way, but let’s pump the brakes a little.
Being selected in the top 10 of this past draft will earn him more attention than others from the coaching staff, and so far they seem quite pleased with his performance. He’s handled the extra pressure very professionally and it’s pretty easy to see why he was named captain of the Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
However, from a developmental standpoint, it would be wise to send him back to juniors, even without a 9 game tryout. The last thing you want to do is rush a top prospect. Former Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said it best when talking about a 19 year old Anthony Mantha: “You see it year after year, guys are drafted high, they come in, the expectations are [too much], that’s because they got here before they were ready.”
Any good showing in the preseason from a player with zero professional experience should be taken with a grain of salt. The competition Rasmussen has faced consists mainly of players from the minors or juniors. That’s not to say just completely forget what he’s done, but taking into account what he’s done in juniors suggests he’s not NHL ready.
The big flaw in his game is 5v5 play, with 51% of his 55 points last year coming on the powerplay (led all 2017 draft eligible players from the CHL.) His skating could still use some fine tuning, but I think the criticism on his skating has been a bit exaggerated. An additional year in the WHL getting top minutes could really help him grow in both these aspects, instead of fighting for minutes in the NHL and struggling to live up to expectations he’s not capable of fulfilling.