Michael Rasmussen was one of the most improved players on the Detroit roster last year. Even though it was a shortened season because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Rasmussen started to look like he finally belonged in the NHL full-time.
This year, Rasmussen started the season as the #3 center in Detroit behind Dylan Larkin and Pius Suter. A slow start, coupled with increased depth on the top two lines, prompted Head Coach Jeff Blashill to juggle Rasmussen between the 3rd and 4th lines.
By the 16 game mark of the season, Rasmussen was still in search of his first goal, and you could see the disappointment every time he missed an opportunity. Rasmussen had chipped in with six assists and a +1 rating, but more was expected from the former 9th overall pick from the 2017 draft.
Early Season Struggles
By the end of November, Rasmussen had only scored one goal, six assists, seven points, and had a -5 rating. During the month of December, Rasmussen started to become more actively involved in the Red Wings’ offense. Rasmussen scored two goals, one assist, three points, and a -2 rating in seven games.
The month of January was absolutely horrible for Rasmussen. The Red Wings were 6-5-3 for the month, but Rasmussen became a liability on the ice. Rasmussen dressed for 14 games and scored one goal, three assists, four points, and a terrible -11 rating. Things got to the point where Rasmussen was regularly only playing 11-14 minutes a night and still had five games where he was -2 or worse.
The month of February was supposed to be dedicated to the Winter Olympics. When the NHL decided to pull players from the Games, and several games were canceled due to Covid issues, the Red Wings ended up playing seven games. The Red Wings went 2-4-1, and Rasmussen scored three goals and had a -2 rating for the month.
The just-concluded month of March was the worst month of the season for the Red Wings. Monumental losses where the team allowed six or more goals on six occasions, including an embarrassing 11-2 defeat to Pittsburgh, were the low lights of a frustrating month for Detroit and Rasmussen.
In 14 games played, Rasmussen scored two goals, one assist, three points, and a -5 rating.
Finally Some Improvement
The final month of the season didn’t start out as planned for Detroit. Struggling to get back to the .500 mark, the Red Wings started the month with a home-and-home set with the Ottawa Senators. These are games that need to be won in order to move up or remain in the middle of the standings. Ottawa defeated the Red Wings 5-2 in both games, and the Red Wings were saddled with a 3-10-3 record over the last 16 games.
One of the bright spots for the Red Wings over the last five games is the play of Michael Rasmussen. Rasmussen has scored four goals and seems to be growing more confident with every shift. The Red Wings have won their last two games, and Big Ras has been a force on the offensive end of the ice.
Detroit drafted Michael Rasmussen for several reasons. His size, strength, reasonable hands, and skating ability were all above average. He was too big and strong to play in the WHL as a 19-year-old, so Detroit kept him in the NHL the entire season. Looking back, I think it would have been better for Rasmussen’s development if he went back to junior and completely dominated his competition.
Rasmussen is approaching 70 games played this season, the most of his NHL career. Rasmussen has now set career highs in goals (12), assists (11), and points (23). Development has been slower than anticipated, but the patience that the Red Wings have had with him looks like it is finally paying off. Rasmussen is a forward that the rebuilding Red Wings desperately need in order to get back into playoff contention in the not-so-distant future.