In the NHL, players under the age of 20 that are on their entry-level contracts can play up to nine games without burning the first year of their deals. Until they do this they’re also not considered one of the contracts counting towards a team’s 50-contract limit, and can be sent back to the CHL if they were drafted out of the Canadian junior ranks. All of that applies to Detroit Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen, giving the team a decision to make as he approaches the 10-game mark. The Red Wings could send Rasmussen away and save a year of his entry-level deal, but according to several reporters including Ansar Khan of MLive, they don’t seem all that worried about the threshold.
Instead, Khan tweets that the Red Wings are “likely to keep Rasmussen long term” though that doesn’t necessarily mean the entire season. As has been pointed out in previous years, some front offices are much more concerned with the 40-game threshold which takes a player a year closer to free agency. Rasmussen hasn’t been playing a ton for the Red Wings, but a regular shift even lower in an NHL lineup may do him more good developmentally than another season in the WHL with players much smaller and less physically mature. Rasmussen is already listed at 6’6″ 221-lbs, and though he has never really dominated offensively at the junior level he’s shown that he won’t get pushed around in the NHL.
The Red Wings are working towards the future, and Rasmussen is a huge part of that plan. The team selected the hulking center ninth overall in 2017, and need him to become a core member of their forward group. With other players like Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno picked in the most recent draft, and the likes of Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha already in place, the Red Wings could quickly become a dangerous group up front. Development is key in that idea though, and they’ve decided at least for now that it’s better to keep Rasmussen around than to send him away.