By Warren Kozireski–
Buffalo Sabres 2016 second round draft pick Rasmus Asplund is having the normal issues most first year pros do (see Alex Nylander, Zemgus Girgensons, Justin Bailey, etc.). Add in the smaller ice surface than he was used to in his native Sweden and it has taken some time to adjust.
“I’ve been struggling a little bit,” Asplund self-assessed in late January. “I am getting adjusted to it (the league) more and more, but I’m not happy at all with my season so far.
“I just think that I have so much more in me and so much more hockey in me to show everybody and it’s kind of frustrating to not get what you know you have in you. But like I said, I’m trying to work on it every day and trying to get better.”
During the Sabres Prospect Camp against players his own age in September, he was among the best players on the ice in some games, which bodes well for the future. He had two primary assists in the first game of that tournament against New Jersey.
“That’s the type of hockey I know I can perform here too and I haven’t so far, so I have to get back to that game; that’s the game I want to play.
With Rochester in the American Hockey League since the start of the season, Asplund was one of just a handful of players to dress for all 45 games (as of Feb. 2). He had just one goal and three assists over the first two months and 20 games. Since December he has one goal and seven assists in 25 games. Not where he wants to be, but a marked improvement.
On many nights Asplund has been on a line with country-mate Victor Olofsson and Danny O’Regan. He and O’Regan bring the speed aspect.
“We think the game the same and we complement each other in different ways, but I think we’re all on the same page mentally which is really important,” line-mate Danny O’Regan said.
“We’ve been finding chemistry more and more during the season and I think we’ve been playing very well as a line the last 15-20 games,” Asplund said. “We’ve been talking that we still need to create a lot of chances, but we need to bear down too to score more.”
Growing up, like many in Sweden, Asplund idolized NHL two-way Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg.
“He was the big guy when I was growing up making his way in the NHL so that was my role model.”
“I want to be a two-way center that can play in both zones and I think I have a plus-A rating right now, which shows that I’ve been playing a pretty good defensive game. I want more offense and I want it to come, but you can’t force anything.”