Red Wings Role Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the just-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature forward Michael Rasmussen
2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 80-15-12-27
Contract Status: Two years remaining at $1.46 million per season
The Red Wings gave Rasmussen a mission in his fourth professional season. They asked him to embrace the role of third line center, to take pride in a job that is more about preventing goals than scoring them. Former Detroit Coach Jeff Blashill asked him to see himself becoming another Jordan Staal, a big center who could check, hit and score.
They wanted him to improve in the faceoff circle and as a penalty killer. Mostly, the Red Wings wanted Rasmussen to find his beast mode.
Rasmussen a bright spot for Red Wings
— Bob Duff (@asktheduffer) April 6, 2022
The Red Wings weren’t closing the door on the idea Rasmussen could create offensively. But they wanted to convince him he could contribute more as a better all-around player. With his size, they felt he could do much more than strive to be a goal scorer.
2021-2022 Detroit Red Wings Highlights
Finished strong with 11 goals in his last 36 games. That’s a 25 goal pace over an 82-game season. Over his last five games of the season, he posted three goals, one assist and 16 shots on net. He had a season-high six shots at Toronto.
2021-22 Red Wings Lowlights
Rasmussen started the season with no goals in his first 16 games, and also netted one goal in 15 games from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31. He also managed only four goals in his first 44 games.
The Detroit Red Wings have re-signed forward Michael Rasmussen to a three-year, $4.38 million contract with an AAV of $1.46 million. pic.twitter.com/XOsNJgpYra
— Complete Hockey News (@CompleteHkyNews) July 22, 2021
What Does His Detroit Future Hold?
Rasmussen is among the Detroit players who made the most progress this season. After his slow start, he started to grow more comfortable in his role as third line center. Over the course of the season, he became more physical, a better defensive forward and ultimately an improved scorer.
“I think (the season) was positive overall,” Rasmussen said. “I took a lot of strides in the right direction, got better at some stuff I needed to get better at. Just gained more experience. Individually it was good for me.”
The Red Wings would like to keep him at center, but haven’t ruled out playing him on wing. Rasmussen said he has no preference for wing or center. The expectation is still that he could become a valuable net-front presence on the power play.
But if he stays at No. 3 center and contributes 16-20 goals and is difficult to play against the Red Wings would be satisfied. By the end of the year, Rasmussen was playing a Jordan Staal-style game. In the last month of his season, when he was playing his best hockey, it was fair to wonder whether he might be able to be a second-line winger or even a middle-six forward who slides between lines depending upon the competition or situation.
With a new coach coming aboard, Rasmussen has a blank slate to expand his opportunity.
“I think it’s important to be a guy that can move up and down thelineup or play in different situations,” Rasmussen said. “It’s something I try to be effective at, whether I’m playing wing or center or whatever special teams. Wherever I can help the team and fit in, give the guys some energy and some life when we need it. It’s something I try hard to be good at. I think it’s important.”