Michael Rasmussen's time with Griffins brief but 'good' for him
Detroit – Michael Rasmussen will stay in the AHL for one more game.
The Red Wings sent Rasmussen to Grand Rapids last week at the conclusion of the Wings’ bye week for a conditioning stint.
He scored two goals (one an empty net) in his Griffins debut Thursday against Texas, then was held scoreless the next night in San Antonio (no shots on net). The Griffins host Manitoba on Wednesday.
Rasmussen had been bothered by hamstring issues and hadn’t played since Jan. 4.
Because of the lengthy time between games, the Wings felt it was best for Rasmussen to have a brief stay in Grand Rapids.
Rasmussen is eligible to play three games in the AHL. The Wings would need to file for an extension if they want Rasmussen to play in Grand Rapids any further.
Because Rasmussen, 19, remains eligible for junior hockey – he was either going to make the NHL or had to be returned to his junior team – Rasmussen isn’t eligible to play in the AHL this season.
When talking about Rasmussen last week, coach Jeff Blashill said it would benefit Rasmussen to play at the minor-league level.
“The unfortunate part of the agreement is that he can’t play in the minors,” Blashill said. “Sometimes, you need a bridge. It’s a huge step from college or major junior (hockey) to the American League or NHL. It’s way easier to step from the AHL to the NHL; I believe that 100 percent.
“I’ve lived it. I’ve seen it. There’s no doubt about that. So what happens is guys are certainly ready to move on from the level they’re at, but these are hard leagues to learn in.
“For him to be able to take that couple games down there is a good thing.”
Rasmussen has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 41 games with the Wings, with a minus-1 rating in just under 13 minutes per game (12:41).
A dominant net-front player in junior hockey, Rasmussen has shown the potential to be effective in a similar role at the pro level.
“He’s going to be a guy who scores goals in this league because he’s a real good net-front guy,” Blashill said. “If you look at the league, all the goals come from right in front of the net, right around the net, and that’s where he’s good at.
“While he’s learning other parts of the game, the thing that is awesome for us is he’s an excellent net-front guy, and that’ll continue as he moves through his career.”
The Wings didn’t practice Monday. They were off for nine days, then played back-to-back games Friday and Saturday, and now they don’t play again until Thursday.
Blashill said Saturday forward Dylan Larkin (oblique) would likely be out one or two weeks, but didn’t completely rule Larkin out for Thursday’s game against Vegas.
With Larkin out of Saturday’s victory in Ottawa, players such Andreas Athanasiou (18:55), Anthony Mantha (20:43), Luke Glendening (17:36), Gustav Nyquist (20:05), Justin Abdelkader (18:53) and Christoffer Ehn (15:11) saw increased ice time.
“When guys are out, how much you miss them depends on the level (of play) of the other players,” Blashill said. “Athanasiou played center (Saturday) – he doesn’t normally do that – and did a good job stepping into that role. A bunch of guys stepped up as the game went along.”
Blashill has been pleased by the development of Athanasiou, Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, among other young players on the Wings’ roster the last several weeks.
Bertuzzi is expected to return to practice Tuesday after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury).
“I sit on the bench and feel like our team is a way better team than we were two years ago, a way better team than we were probably two months ago,” Blashill said. “Why? I’d say a large part of it is the continued growth of a number of players, including young players, and that’s paramount to this organization, that those guys continue to grow and get better.”