It's easy, almost too easy, to acknowledge Oliver Kylington as the best draft decision the Flames made in June. However, there is evidence to support that Rasmus Andersson might have exceptional upside as a sleeper pick. With all things considered from his first year with Barrie of the OHL, which yielded some fantastic results, he's looking like a good choice thus far.
The Flames made the right decision selecting him as a safe option in the second round, just ahead of countryman Kylington. The emphasis of rebuilding the very shallow prospect pool on the blueline took exceptional leaps forward in June, and now we get to watch him mature over the next couple seasons. At 6'0, 212 lbs. Andersson has the size, the shot, and we all know he can score at the junior level - but those are just all parts that add up to a larger equation. Hopefully, it'll be one that results in success.
|Rank||Player||DOB||Draft||2014-15 Team||Vote Total|
||53rd overall, 2015
||Barrie Colts (OHL)||76|
Andersson's career in Sweden really took hold in the 2011-12 season, splitting time between four different leagues. Initially playing with Skåne, then three different levels of the Malmö Redhawks, Andersson found some success of varying degrees with all of them. To cap that off, he joined Team Sweden's U16 team and had a immaculate point-per-game ratio.
The 2012-13 season yielded even more attention and saw Andersson spend more time playing against men in the SuperElit league and Allsvenskan, all with Malmö. Again, he was invited to and joined Team Sweden at the U17, U18, and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament. In what would be his final year in Sweden, Andersson continued to play with the Redhawks at a professional level. This all provided opportunities for his existing skill-set to improve and really set himself up for success in Barrie.
With the absence of Aaron Ekblad in Barrie after being drafted, Andersson committed to playing for the Colts last August, adding to an already stacked team. Several years against men provided a much easier adjustment for Andersson transitioning to North American ice. His rookie year in the OHL saw him produce at nearly a point-per-game pace, play in the CHL Top Prospects game, and be named a member of the second OHL all-star team.
Strengths and weaknesses
Andersson possesses a plethora of skills and attributes that should have fans salivating. First and foremost: puck movement, something that all capable NHL defenseman need to have. Andersson's acumen for smart passing, finding logical outlets, and generating shot attempts was opined about by some scouts: all of which reads clearly in the stat sheet.
In regards to the defensive side of his game, it's good, with opportunity for improvement. Andersson is capable in his own end, finding safe options as opposed to taking risks. He is physical, but not overbearing in that department, finding restraint to avoid unnecessary penalties. Andersson also finds ways to win puck battles; again, part of a strong foundation of skills that limit the risk and add to the reward of drafting him.
That said, Andersson has a few opportunities to polish as he continues to mature as a player, because some things do take additional time. Despite strong lateral movement, the necessity for further mobility and skating is regarded as one of these areas for improvement.
Future with the Flames
Many scouts and analysts peg him as a second pairing defenseman, but his future with Calgary specifically is far away. Again, at only 18, it's impossible to truly predict his future with so many variables that exist. The Projection Project had him as one of the most likely NHL players with a 76% projection for success. With TJ Brodie and Dougie Hamilton effectively the future 1-2, if all goes well, Kylington and Andersson may be next in line.
Expectations for 2015-16
It's safe to say his first year on North American ice was a success, and he'll need another year with Barrie. A year as a top-pairing guy, getting significant usage in all situations will continue to strengthen the existing progress Andersson has made. With the possibility of representing Sweden at the World Juniors this winter, he has a platform to showcase himself to Calgary fans, too.
Depending on the progress he has made by next spring, along with Barrie's situation at the time, he may even see a game with Calgary, like previous prospects before him. Though right now, in the immediate future, the OHL is best for him.
Earlier on the list
#25 - Ryan Culkin // #24 - Hunter Smith // #23 - Pavel Karnaukhov // #22 - Garnet Hathaway // #21 - Kenny Agostino// #20 - Mark Jankowski // #19 - Bill Arnold // #18 - Kenney Morrison // #17 - Andrew Mangiapane // T-#14 - Mason McDonald // T-#14 - Brandon Hickey