One of the top prospects coming out of Sweden this year, Rasmus Asplund is a significant contender for a pick by the Leafs once they’ve nabbed Matthews. Asplund is a centerman for Farjestad in the SHL. He will certainly be someone the Leafs take a look at for their late 1st and early 2nd round picks.
Take a look at the highlight pack below from Asplund’s time in the SHL:
Although highlight packs aren’t solid analysis tools, even for qualitative analysis, it’s fun to see and gives you an idea of the type of player Asplund is.
We can gather from this pack that he possesses elite puck handling skills in front of the net, for both shots and passes. He also displays a good drive to the home plate for scoring chances.
Asplund measures in at only 5’10”, and weighs in at 176 lbs. Certainly on the smaller end of the scale, but certainly not too small to be impactful. Some scouting reports label him as a two-way center, though I haven’t seen much of this in my limited viewings of SHL games. It’s probably safe to say I caught him on a couple bad days, but it’s entirely possible that he’s not quite as defensively capable as he’s touted to be.
Here’s the quote from The Draft Analyst’s profile on him:
An excellent two-way center who didn’t take long to earn a full-time job in Sweden’s top league. … Asplund is quick and shifty, using his speed and turning ability to gain time and space. He has a good touch around the net, positioning his stick in the right place and takes a beating to complete a play. His SHL numbers might not show it, but he’s a very good scorer with a quick, accurate shot. Asplund is strong on the puck and can make plays across the ice or diagonally while traveling at a high rate of speed. His work ethic off the ice is excellent, and it shows — he’s a tenacious forechecker and competes every shift from start to finish. Asplund is far from physical, but his excellent work in the faceoff circle coupled with his smarts makes him a perfect fit for the NHL’s puck-possession game.
And one from Corey Pronman’s rankings (ESPN Insider required):
Although Asplund didn’t translate his strong international play to great success
in the SHL this season, he’s still a pretty desirable prospect. There are split
opinions on him within the industry, with some scouts seeing an NHL tweener
and others seeing a player with a very good chance to become a top-six center.
Asplund’s best trait is his hockey sense. He’s a creative, aware, two-way forward
who creates with his hands and vision, on top of being positionally sound.
Asplund is also an above-average skater with great agility on his edges and a
good first step. His 5-foot-11 frame works against him, and his strength needs to
go a long way before he’s NHL-ready, but he shows the capability to be a solid
defensive center, despite his size.
The general consensus seems to be that he’s a good two-way center with good vision, instincts in front of the net, and good puck handling in the offensive zone.
Here’s how Asplund has ranked across different scouting sites/personnel:
|Site/Personnel||Damien Cox||Hockeyprospect.com||Corey Pronman||McKeen’s||Future Considerations||The Draft Analyst||NHL CSS Intl.|
Asplund ends up near the top of the International rankings from NHL CSS (as unreliable as they may be) which is impressive, but after the top 3, the majority of talent for this draft is coming from North America. On average, he finished around 25th overall, which may put him outside of the Leafs’ reach.
Asplund didn’t exactly light the league up in terms of scoring, but as an 18 year old in a man’s league, he performed admirably. Looking back to our own Shawn Reis‘ “Which Swedes fit the 51% rule?”, we can see Asplund still fits this rule (just barely). The basic idea of that post is that even a very moderate level of scoring in the SHL as an 18-year-old is a pretty good indicator of success. With the longest sample size of the bunch, it’s possible that Asplund is least likely of that bunch to achieve NHL success.
As such, I’m a little hesitant to be excited about Asplund. Despite his solid efforts on the ice, his size and lack of scoring in combination are concerning.
SHOULD THE LEAFS BE INTERESTED?
I don’t think Asplund is deserving of his 25th overall ranking, but he may be an interesting pick at 30/31. However, if Asplund is the highest pedigree prospect that’s available at those picks, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see the Leafs trade down or pass him up for more of a “reach” like Adam Fox, Jonathan Dahlen, or others.