Sabres fans should remember June 25, 2016 because that is the day that Tim Murray traded Mark Pysyk and 3rd round pick for Dimitri Kulikov and a second-round pick.
Now most people think this was one of the worst trades that Tim Murray made, but what people seem to forget is that the second-round pick that came to Buffalo ended up being forward Rasmus Asplund.
Asplund, picked 33rd overall by Murray is one of the most well rounded prospects in the Sabres organization. The two-way centre has scored six goals and added 19 assists for 25 points in 38 games in the SHL this season.
Asplund isn’t known for his offense though, he is more of a “swiss army knife” type of player. His draft profile on Future Considerations refers to Asplund as “a classic hard-working two-way centreman who can handle all types of situations.”
The FC profile continues to say “The kid can absolutely fly down the wing when he gets moving, and is a threat when he gains some momentum and confidence in his game. Asplund commands the ice in transition and while in possession, making opponents back off with some slick hands and skating, pushing them back.”
As the game shifts toward speed and skill, Asplund seems to be a perfect prospect for the Sabres. He has the offensive skill to produce when needed, the speed to keep up with the game and the versatility to play in every situation.
Watching the film on Asplund, there is a lot to like about this kid. As stated before his speed is a huge asset but the three main things I like about his game are as follows:
-His combination of Speed and Grit
-His offensive abilities
Earlier in the article I called Asplund a swiss army knife type of prospect and I wasn’t kidding. Asplund can literally play any situation, he has the speed and and ability to be a force 5-on-5. He has the offensive skill and playmaking abilities to play on the powerplay, and he has the defensive awareness to play on the penalty kill.
There is literally nothing this kid can’t do. As a 20-year old he wears an “A” for Farjestad, the team trusts him in any situation and he rarely disappoints. A player who can play any situation is great, but Asplund is a player who can EXCEL in any situation.
The game of hockey is moving towards speed and skill, this is not a surprise to anyone who watches the game. Asplund has the speed and skill to play in the modern NHL but he also puts his nose down and gets into the dirty areas.
His FC draft profile said “despite his stature, he protects the puck well and does not fear contact. Asplund is a very skilled center who isn´t afraid to drive to the net and create some offensive chances in front of the opposition’s cage.”
Having a prospect with speed and skill is something that all fans can be happy about, but throw in the fact he isn’t scared to go into the dirty areas and fans should be ecstatic to have a player like that in the system.
Asplund is known as a two-way centre, and that is exactly what he is. He will play responsibly on defense and help shut down the opposing team’s offensive stars.
But Asplund’s offensive game has been developing nicely in Sweden. Every year he has set a new career high in points. This year he set himself a 30-point goal, and only needs five more points to reach that goal.
With his versatility, and his developing offensive game Asplund is turning into a perfect third-line centre who can play in every aspect of the game.
The 20-year old’s contract in the SHL expires after this season, and Botterill should be signing him to his entry-level deal upon season’s end so he can come to North America and begin developing in the team’s system.
The former second round pick was thought of as a first-round talent in his draft year, so Sabres fans should be happy that Murray traded up to get him at 33rd overall.
As bad as the Kulikov trade was, fans can still have faith that getting Asplund out of that trade has the potential to turn that trade into a big win for the Sabres going forward.
Projected Role: 3rd line centre (with a heavy role on special teams)
Projected NHL Arrival: 2019-2020
Asplund will probably take the same developmental path as Guhle, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him stepping in next year if he has an excellent pre-season. Having Asplund in the bottom six will eliminate the need for players like Larsson and Nolan next season.