A wall. That’s what Rasmus Andersson must see when it comes to the defence core in Calgary, and he’s on the other side of it.
One of the Calgary Flames most intriguing young prospects has continued to impress this pre-season after a strong rookie year in Stockton. But whether he wants to admit it or not, he has to see the wall when it comes to making the Flames on the right side.
With three right hand shot defencemen all locked up for at least three more seasons, the issue isn’t really Andersson not making the team this year, but a year or two from now when he’s definitely ready to make the jump.
I wasn’t a fan when the Flames chose to bring back Michael Stone, and especially wasn’t a fan when I heard it was for three years at $3.5 million per season. It wasn’t even that I dislike Stone all that much, but it blocks the development path for the young defensive prospects pushing their way up the organization. Had they only brought him back for a year, I would’ve had less of an issue.
While playing in Stockton this season is probably the better choice for Andersson this year, he also wouldn’t have looked out of place on that third pairing in Calgary. As things sit now though, I’d rather see him get top minutes in Stockton on his natural side instead of keeping him on his off side in Calgary or even in the press box. On the bright side he’ll almost definitely be the team’s first callup from Stockton if any injuries occur.
Either way, he’s earned a longer look in camp this season and will be in the lineup vs Winnipeg tonight. You have to think that at least on a subconscious level, the tall mountain Andersson realizes he has to climb to make the NHL has to be more than just outplaying Stone or any other regular.
When GM’s make big re-signings or trades, they often aren’t as willing to move away from those players if they turn out to be mistakes (Brouwer). So if Stone ends up blocking Andersson’s path, there’s not a lot the kid can do about it if pride gets in the way of what’s best for the Flames.
Luckily Andersson’s entry-level contract has already slid two years which means the Flames will get at least three more seasons of control over him before he’s even an RFA, but the cards look somewhat stacked against him.
If it ends up taking three more years of development in the AHL and then he steps in for Stone at the end of his contract and it works perfectly, I’ll be the first to say I was wrong. However Andersson has shown this pre-season and during last season that his NHL timeline is a lot closer than three years.
Perhaps it best serves both parties if he becomes enticing trade bait to a rebuilding club with a very good player they’re looking to sell (Matt Duchene anyone?? haha).
This would give Andersson the opportunity to continue his development in the NHL because it sure doesn’t seem like he’s going to get the ice time he deserves in Calgary any time soon.