As the 2018-19 NHL Season approaches the midway point, first year forward Michael Rasmussen continues to develop his game with the Detroit Red Wings.
In 33 games so far, he's scored five goals to go with five assists. Of course, that isn't close to the production that he put up in the Western Hockey League last season (31 goals and 28 assists (59 points) in only 47 games), but it wasn't realistic to expect him to duplicate those numbers in his first NHL season.
Head coach Jeff Blashill isn't particularly worried about Rasmussen's goal scoring slump (no goals in 15 games) but knows that the big forward has more in him, and that the growing pains are just part of the normal development of a first year player.
“I’m not worried, I don’t look at production in the short-term as much as I look at process and he’s played good,” Blashill explained. “He’s been big and strong and physical. He can get back to being a little more physical than he’s been, but overall, he’s been good….He hasn’t been great, he’s been good, we have to get him back to playing great.”
One of Rasmussen's biggest assets is his size (6'5, 221 lbs), naturally making him a good fit to play in front of the net on the power play. However, he hasn't seen as much time on the man advantage (neither have the Red Wings).
“His best asset is his net-front ability,” Blashill said. “He’s also on the power play unit that hasn’t gotten out there the last number of games, the other unit has gone first and they’ve scored a couple times, which is a positive thing. But that’s another area where he’s going to score his goals.”
Because of his junior eligibility, Rasmussen wasn't eligible to play in the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins. Going straight from juniors to the NHL is a big leap, but Blashill is happy with the way Rasmussen has handled it.
“It’s a huge jump and one he’s handled pretty well,” Blashill said. “It takes mental toughness and he’s done a good job with that. When he’s had struggles, he’s been able to get himself out of it, and that’s a real important thing.
“He’s a good player. He’s learning to be heavier on the puck.”