Since the Detroit Red Wings aren’t expected to open training camp until likely December, they’ve been allowing a handful of their talented prospects to travel overseas to stay in shape until hockey returns to North America this winter.
Adding another name to that group, the Red Wings announced they’ve loaned center Michael Rasmussen to the Graz 99ers of the ICE Hockey League, formerly known as the Austrian National League. In total, the team has now sent eight prospects to participate in their respective leagues located across Europe.
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 23, 2020
Drafted in the first round (ninth overall) of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Rasmussen was sent back to junior hockey in his first season within the Red Wings’ organization and didn’t disappoint during his third and final season with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL. In addition, the 21-year-old also helped carried his team to the league’s Western Conference Finals but finished just two wins shy of advancing to the championship round.
Named captain of the team during the 2017-18 campaign, the left-hander played in 47 regular season games, scoring 31 goals and 59 points. Over 14 postseason contests, the 6-foot-6 forward recorded 16 goals and 33 points through three playoff rounds.
Based on his stellar performance with the Americans, the Red Wings believed Rasmussen had reached his peak in the WHL and they wanted to move him up to the next level of competition. But since he was only 19-years old in 2018, he was too young to play in either the AHL or the ECHL. As a result, the youngster was forced to spend the following season in the NHL, splitting time between the team’s third and fourth lines.
To make matters worse, the British Columbia native was forced to learn a new position at the highest level of competition, as he was moved over to the left wing spot. Faced with these obstacles, the highly touted prospect struggled during the 2018-19 season, averaging just 12:05 minutes of ice time, tallying eight goals, 18 points, 84 hits, 74 shots on net, 28 blocks, 12 takeaways, along with a disappointing 35.9 faceoff win percentage through 62 games.
Finally allowed to play in the AHL during the 2019-20 campaign, Rasmussen looked poised for a bounce-back season but couldn’t stay healthy, missing two months with an undisclosed injury. Thanks to the league’s shutdown, he wasn’t provided enough time to salvage his inaugural season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, which prevented him from showcasing his talents across a large sample size.
Catching fire at the beginning of the season, the power forward recorded five points (two goals and three assists) in his first three games before being sidelined for the next few months. Making his return halfway through January, the former first-round pick ultimately participated in 35 games, scoring seven goals and 22 points before the AHL’s hiatus began in March.
Considering the AHL’s 2020-21 campaign isn’t slated to begin until Dec. 4, which could obviously be pushed back if needed, Rasmussen will likely spend the next couple of months in Austria and will probably make his debut in the near future. With the 99ers’ season opener taking place on Friday, there’s a chance his first game could come before the end of the weekend.