Red Wings' Michael Rasmussen returns from Grand Rapids healthy, confident

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News
Michael Rasmussen
Age: 21. Ht: 6-6. Wt: 229
2019-20 statistics (with Grand Rapids): 35 games, seven goals, 15 assists, 22 points
Analysis: The former first-round pick had an impressive camp after returning from Austria. He could be developing into a formidable net-front presence.

Detroit — Michael Rasmussen never has done anything like this before, so he didn’t know what to expect.

Rasmussen was sent to Grand Rapids for a conditioning assignment, having not played since Jan. 4 because of hamstring issues.

It turns out the three games Rasmussen played before returning Thursday to the Red Wings — he will be in the lineup against Vegas — were a positive experience.

“I was out for a long time in juniors with different injuries, (but) I’d never gone down to a different league and played (upon returning),” Rasmussen said after Thursday’s morning skate. “It was good, a good couple of games. The guys were great. It was good hockey, it was good to get back at it.

Rasmussen had two goals in his first game with the Griffins, then was held scoreless the next two, though coach Jeff Blashill was pleased with what he saw.

“I had a chance to watch him play (Wednesday) and he was excellent,” Blashill said. “He did a real good job as the game went along, he controlled the puck real well. I would think it put him in a good position to come back with a lot of confidence.

“It was great for him to go down and play three games and have some success.”

Blashill said Rasmussen would return into the Red Wings' lineup Thursday against Vegas.

Rasmussen has missed 10 games, and with having the All-Star and “bye” breaks together before the NHL schedule resumed, the Wings felt it was too much time for the 19-year-old to go without playing.

“It was good to go down and get some conditioning in, get some reps, and play some real good hockey,” Rasmussen said. “I’m glad I did that.

“I tried not to compare it, but there’s great competition down there. You have to compete and play just as hard. There’s not much of a difference.”

Blashill felt Rasmussen playing well in the AHL was a good sign.

“He looks like a big man out there (6-foot-6),” Blashill said. “He’s 19 years old, in the American League, and I spent three years in the AHL; it’s hard to stand out, and he stood out in a real positive fashion.”

Rasmussen was able to play on a line with last year’s firs-round pick, Filip Zadina, on different occasions.

Rasmussen raved about Zadina’s development.

“His game progressed and he’s playing real well,” Rasmussen said. “He’s playing both ends of the rink. He’s definitely a great player.

“I see him blocking shots and making hard plays on the walls. He has the offensive side of the game, and it obviously comes pretty natural for him, and it’s good to see.”

That time of year

There was a smattering of fathers arriving Thursday at Little Caesars Arena, watching the morning skate and learning where everything is around the locker room.

The upcoming road trip through Buffalo, Chicago and Nashville is the annual fathers trip, where players bring along either their father, mentor, or father-in-law, in what has become an enjoyable tradition for everyone involved.

Forward Andreas Athanasiou said his father, Stan, has been looking forward to this trip.

“They all have a real good time together,” Athanasiou said. “Those are three good cities to play in and it’s such a good experience for everyone. He’s definitely excited about this trip and seeing the other dads and spending time together.”

Ice chips

Blashill said forward Dylan Larkin was “questionable” for Thursday’s game.

Larkin strained his oblique muscle against Toronto and would miss his second consecutive game if he didn’t dress against the Golden Knights.

… Former Red Wings prospect forward Tomas Nosek is having a little more difficult second season in Vegas.

A key part of the Golden Knight’s magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring, Nosek has 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 49 games, but with a team-worst minus-11 plus-minus rating.

…Thursday’s game is Blashill’s 300th as head coach of the Wings.

Twitter: @tkulfan