The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the Die By The Blade community. It was a combination of six staff writers and over 500 readers that ranked players under the age of 25 by September 1st, 2019. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production to rank each player.
After a somewhat slow start in his first year with the Rochester Amerks, Rasmus Asplund was excellent down the stretch. Registering 21 points in the final 20 games of the season, the Swedish pivot elevated his game that would have justified a late season call-up had the Amerks not been in the midst of a playoff race.
Expectations were high for the former second-round pick. After an impressive run in the SHL with Färjestad BK from 2015-18, fans in Western New York were eager to see how he’d adjust to North America. It took a little time, but the 21-year-old showed that he is a future NHL regular.
It is possible that the two-way centerman will impress new head coach, Ralph Kruger in training camp and force his way onto the roster, but in all likelihood, he will return to the AHL for the beginning of the 2019-20 campaign. That’s not to say he isn’t deserving of a role in the Buffalo Sabres’ bottom-six, but given the organization’s current logjam up front, he may have to wait.
Regardless, Asplund is a good bet to get at least some playing time with the big club when the injury bug inevitably bites. If he can pick up where he left off in 2018-19, he could force Jason Botterill to clear a spot for him, especially if the incumbent players in the bottom-six fail to justify their existence in the early going.
Botterill did say on WGR 550 last week that he wouldn’t hesitate to waive players on one-way deals. With the Amerks near the veteran limit however, it remains to be seen how he’d make it work. Either way, Asplund joins names like Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Dylan Cozens and Arttu Ruotsalinen in what appears to be a very bright future down the middle in Buffalo.
#25 Miska Kukkonen
#24 Linus Weissbach
#23 Andrew Oglevie
#22 Jacob Bryson
#21 Casey Fitzgerald
#20 Marcus Davidsson
#19 Matej Pekar
#18 Ryan Johnson
#16 Oskari Laaksonen
#14 Will Borgen
#13 C.J. Smith