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Red Wings Review: Michael Rasmussen’s Future

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Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings

Detroit Hockey Now’s Red Wings Review series is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2022-23 Detroit Red Wings season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recently-completed campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Detroit. Today, we feature Michael Rasmussen

Michael Rasmussen

Position: Center/Wing

2022-23 totals (GP-G-A-PT): 56-10-19-29

Contract Status: Signed through the 2023-24 season.

Season Synopsis

The Red Wings don’t have to drill down deep into analytics to understand Michael Rasmussen’s value. The Red Wings were 28-21-8 when Rasmussen suffered a season-ending injury and 7-16-2 the rest of the way without him.

When 6-foot-6 Rasmussen was out, the Red Wings missed his size, physical play, penalty killing, leadership and his improving offensive play. They were not the same team without him.

“He a huge piece,” Red Wings forward Andrew Copp said. “You lose him and then you lose Bert and Fil in a week or two span, it definitely hurt our lineup quite a bit.”

The bottom line: the Red Wings understand Rasmussen’s value. They appreciate his versatility and his willingness to alter his game to be more effective.

 

2022-23 Red Wings Highlights

From Dec. 17 to Dec. 31, the Rasmussen had seven points over five games. That included a four-point game against Tampa. Over a six-game span, from Jan. 16 to Jan. 26, Rasmussen put up seven points in six games. That included three two-point games. He finished the season with seven multiple-point games.

2022-23 Red Wings Lowlight

Neither the Red Wings, nor Rasmussen, explained in great detail, the extent of his Feb. 25 injury, but it is clear that it was the lowest point of his season.   The injury robbed him of 31.7% of his season.

Here is what Rasmussen said after the season: “My kneecap wasn’t in 100 places,” he said. “I just took a shot off the kneecap. Wasn’t able to play. I was on crutches and in a brace for a while. It was tough, because it was one of those injuries where you just can’t go. You can’t play. There’s no possibility of playing. It wasn’t shattered, or in 100 pieces but it just needed some time and I needed to be off of it. That was it.”

They understand his value to the organization. He has done everything coaches have asked him to. Rasmussen has changed his game to be more effective.

 What Does His Detroit Future Hold?

Assistant coach Alex Tanguay lobbied aggressively for coach Derek Lalonde to move Rasmussen from center to wing and the results were successful. You can make an argument that he was stronger offensively on the wing. He had some memorable games on the wing, especially playing with Andrew Copp.

“I think we had some success early on and I was able to snowball off that,” Copp said. “I think that especially in the beginning of the season I wasn’t playing my best.  Got very pass happy, kind of related to the injury, not being able to drive and skate with the puck as well as I would have liked. Having Ras’ forechecking ability really helped kind of get pucks back and we produced really well. That was right around the time I started to feel better.”

Coach Derek Lalonde sees the advantage of Rasmussen on the wing. “I think it simplifies his game,”  Lalonde said. “(Rasmussen) can skate more north-south being on the wing and he’s been pretty good there. Fortunately, with the amount of injuries we’ve had up front all year, it’s been a luxury those guys who can play both wing and center.”

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Rasmussen said that during his season-ending exit interview there was very little talk about whether he would be a center or wing in the future. It seems as if Lalonde believes it’s more beneficial to have Rasmussen’s position to be open ended. They view Rasmussen’s versatility as a major plus. Several players around the NHL have spent time at both center and wing. Steven Stamkos has played and Lalonde has experience with him Tampa.

The Red Wings don’t need to make any decisions about his position. They are just content to have him as one of their big rebuilding blocks.