At first glance, the thought of trading away Michael Rasmussen seems far-fetched and silly. How could it possibly makes sense to move on from a nineteen year old rookie in the midst of a rebuild?
The premise of this argument isn’t so much Rasmussen HAS to go, but that he could be an intriguing name to bring up in trade talks. As the Red Wings attempt to build around Dylan Larkin, the biggest hole remains on the blue-line. Dennis Cholowski and Filip Hronek should be fine staples of the defensive corps moving forward but after them it gets sketchy.
The most prominent name brought up as the trading chip for said defensemen is Andreas Athanasiou. His name is still being discussed as the expendable asset. But I present a different name — Michael Rasmussen.
I’m well aware of the controversial nature of this take. The side you fall on in this debate depends largely on how you view Rasmussen. If you’re under the belief he will develop into a consistent 20 or 30 goal threat, moving him makes no sense. However, if you’re leaning more towards my side in which you were never a fan of selecting him 9th overall in 2017, you’ll have time for this perspective.
The season to date has gone just fine for the Surrey, B.C. native. 6 goals (3 on the powerplay) and 13 points in 41 games isn’t a terrible stat-line for a player still finding his place in the league. His long-term future may be on the wing, which wasn’t as planned when drafting him.
But the question is how far can he grow? Can he become an impact player — one you hope for in a top-10 pick? I personally think we are looking at a middle-6 winger who primarily will score on the powerplay. To me, that is an expendable asset. Speed and high-end skill is what Detroit should be building this team around.
I’m not expecting management to see it the same way. Obviously they were quite high on the Tri-City product or else they wouldn’t have selected him that high. With the way he has played this year, I’m sure they are confident he will continue to develop.
But if they were to explore trading him there is no doubt teams would have interest. TSN’s Bob McKenzie ranked Rasmussen 9th overall for the 2017 draft. McKenzie’s list is based on feedback from NHL scouts – indicating there must have been NHL teams just as high on the power forward. Less than two years since draft day and no major changes or red flags in Rasmussen’s game that would spur a change in opinion, there could be several teams lined up for his services.
I could certainly imagine a team forking over a slightly older defensemen (in the 23, 24, or 25 age range) if it meant they could acquire an under-20 player they’ve had their eyes on since the player was 16 years old. From Detroit’s perspective, they have an opportunity to fill a hole and maximize value while doing so.
Philadelphia is in the beginning of a retool. Shayne Gostisbehere would be a perfect fit in Detroit. Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce are also available. There are plenty of names out there to spitball around, but I think you get the idea. It’s also worth noting that I am not suggesting a one-for-one swap. Some of the defensemen I named might be pipe dreams, but a phone call can’t hurt, especially with a valuable asset like Rasmussen in the mix.
Maybe the most comparable deal is Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin. An unproven commodity with little NHL experience, but still a highly regarded prospect in Sergachev was moved for a proven player in Drouin.
The trade deadline is less than a month away but a move like this could wait until the offseason. It is still something to consider as general manager Ken Holland works the phones regarding his pending unrestricted free-agents.
Again, I’m not trying to run Rasmussen out-of-town. He is a fine player — one I think was drafted too high — and one I think should not be viewed as un-tradeable. This isn’t me giving up on a young player. I preach patience. It pains me when a struggling young player is traded after a few seasons. But I think there is a unique opportunity here to maximize value. A lot of risk is involved in trading away a young player. But there is risk in every move. An Athanasiou trade has just as much potential to blow up in their faces. It is very important to keep all options open.