Swedish center just misses top 10, but still shows plenty of potential
The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of staff writers and over 600 readers that ranked Buffalo Sabres players under the age of 25 as of August 1, 2022. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
While his numbers have not added up to anything overly impressive during his first few seasons in the NHL, Rasmus Asplund is the more subtly poignant player you want on your team. Though it is not as often as some Sabres fans would like, he can score and is, quite simply, fun to watch.
Are his 27 points from last season anything to write home about? No, but he is not going to be a Tage Thompson or Jeff Skinner, which is totally fine. The advantage he has over those two and many other forwards on the team is defensive play. This is especially evident when playing with linemates like Casey Mittelstadt who just doesn’t have that defensive edge in him (let alone the ability to stay healthy, but I digress). Coincidentally, Asplund beat Mitts in this ranking by one spot.
At 24 years old, the lefthanded drafted-center-but-often-a-winger only just had his first full season this past year thanks to previous seasons being negatively impacted by COVID and other obstacles. Head coach Don Granato seems to be a great fit for Asplund who is a hard worker and just the kind of third or fourth liner the Sabres need long-term to be successful.
If and when Buffalo finally makes the playoffs again, Asplund could be one to watch more closely as he was very effective this past May in the Ice Hockey World Championship (IIHF). In Finland, he shined offensively with teammate Rasmus Dahlin when they represented Sweden. Asplund had several multi-point games, contributed six goals in six games during the preliminary round, and ranked second in the whole tournament behind Pierre-Luc Dubois who had seven goals. He also led his team in ice time with an average of about 24 minutes.
With a full season behind him, it will be interesting to see his numbers during the upcoming season and what kind of support he can bring to both his linemates and defense throughout their time on the ice. Perhaps his experience thus far and more time under Granato will give him the confidence to keep moving in the right direction.