By Torie Peterson
When the Stockton Heat needed someone to take charge this past season, they knew exactly who to turn to.
“He at times, in Stockton, would take over the game. If we needed a goal, if we needed an offensive play or really needed to push the pace, Rasmus stepped up to the plate,” Flames assistant general manager Brad Pascall said. “We feel that he’s one of the top young defensive prospects in the American Hockey League.”
The Swedish blueliner put in 56 games with Stockton in 2017-18, scoring nine goals and tallying 39 points. That total tied him for seventh among all AHL defencemen and placed him fourth in the Heat’s regular-season scoring race.
“He has that maturity about his game, that patience with the puck and he can excel in all areas of the game.
“He’s still a young guy, he’s still developing, but he had a really strong year offensively and how he can take over the games at times, we really felt he was deserving of a call-up and he earned that chance he had here.”
That spell in Calgary saw Andersson play 10 games in Flames silks, averaging 15:26 of ice time per game. As per Corsica, the 21-year-old had an even-strength 53.72 Corsi-for percentage during his stint in the NHL, which ranked him eighth among all Flames skaters who played five or more games with the club this year.
“We talked a lot to him – the coaches and management – about just playing his game,” said Pascall. “It’s easier said than done. When he first came up, I think he was trying to play a little bit of a safe game and really trying to not make a mistake, which is normal for a lot of young players. It takes some time to settle in, in that regard.
“But at the end of the day, I felt towards the end of the season he was one of our best puck movers, pushing the pace and moving plays up, looking for seams and creating some offensive chances as he went along. He was really playing his game.
“We’re pleased with what he’s shown at this level. He manages the pace of the game well already but that’s an area he’ll need to continue to work on as he goes along.”
The Flames drafted Andersson in the second round of the 2015 NHL Draft, 53rd overall, out of the Barrie Colts in the OHL. He was one of the Colts’ best defencemen during his two years in junior, amassing 21 goals and 124 points in 131 regular-season games.
In 2016-17, he was assigned to the Heat and began his pro career in Stockton. That year, he scored three goals and ended up with 22 points through 54 games and was rewarded with an NHL call-up, making his debut on April 8 in San Jose.
Andersson’s development since coming over to North America in 2014 has been impressive. With that taste of the NHL fueling him in the off-season, the organization expects big things from the young defenceman heading into the 2018-19 season.
“With a big summer ahead of him, we hope he can push for a full-time spot here in Calgary this fall.”