Andersson May Not Get Norris Nod But He’s Been Clutch For Flames
Calgary Flames defenceman Rasmus Andersson has five goals and four of them have been game winners this season.
It’s not often you can say a 50-point NHL defenceman is underrated. But Calgary Flames rearguard Rasmus Andersson may qualify.
The 26-year-old continues to elevate his game and climb into the league’s elite two-way defenders but you likely won’t hear his name in any serious Norris Trophy discussions.
You’ve got the time-travelling Erik Karlsson, who has already hit the 50-point mark this season with the San Jose Sharks. Josh Morrissey is having a memorable start with the Winnipeg Jets, Rasmus Dahlin has taken his game to a new level with the Buffalo Sabres, Adam Fox and Cale Makar are recent Norris winners rounding out the top five in scoring from the blueline so far.
Andersson’s five goals and 26 points has him in the top 20.
He’s the quarterback on the top powerplay, sees a lot of top opponents alongside partner Noah Hanifin, and is the kind of guy who empties his tank on every shift.
Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said recently that Andersson gives everything he’s got, but that he’s still learning.
After a career-high 46 points and 50 points last year, along with a plus-30 rating, Andersson is on pace for double-digit goals and close to 60 points this season.
I’d say the learning is going pretty well.
He’s certainly getting the minutes to back up the notion the coach trust him out there, too.
Although the numbers might be slightly skewed by nights when Chris Tanev missed time due to injury, Andersson hasn’t dipped below 20 minutes a night all season. He is averaging nearly 25 minutes per game. Only 11 other NHL defencemen rank higher on that list. And while some might seem flashier by virtue of their gaudy point totals, their draft cache or previous awards, Andersson is on top of one category that might make him the most clutch.
Of the five goals he’s scored this season, four of them have been game-winners. That includes his overtime winner in Anaheim before Christmas, but doesn’t account for his shootout efforts, either. Or his overtime setup to Tyler Toffoli in October.
All five of his goals have come at even-strength despite his presence on the man-advantage.
He was asked about being a big-moment player after the OT winner in Anaheim.
“I don’t mind it. I feel like I’ve been like that since I was a little kid,” he said before quickly drawing attention to his errors on the winning goal the previous night in Los Angeles. “But it changes quick, right?
“I made a horrendous play on the overtime goal in L.A. I let them play tic-tac-toe around me and they scored. It goes both ways, right?
Those who have watched him develop since the 2015 NHL draft would suggest the Calgary Flames got a steal in the late second round.
He may not get much in the way of Norris nods, but more are going to take notice if he continues what he’s doing so far.