Total Season Stats: 29 GP | 1 G | 2 A | 3 PTS (NHL) / 33 GP | 3 G | 16 A | 19 PTS (AHL)
Contract Status: Signed on ELC through 2020-21 season ($845,000)
It feels like Buffalo Sabres prospect Rasmus Asplund is on the cusp of making it to the National Hockey League on a full-time basis. He’s so close, but just couldn’t quite get there this season. Asplund was recalled several times to the NHL over the course of the season and bounced back and forth between Buffalo & Rochester, and should compete for a full-time roster spot this fall.
The 22-year-old started off the season with the AHL’s Amerks. He potted two assists in the season opener, but then went pointless for the next four games. He was hot and cold a bit in the beginning, with a three-game point streak, a two-point game in early November and a few short stints where he was held pointless.
In mid-November, Asplund was called up to the NHL for the first time. He made his NHL debut on November 16 in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and was impressive:
What was not to like about Rasmus Asplund’s NHL debut tonight? There was no questioning his effort, he was playing with speed, wasn’t afraid to get physical, and he looked so smooth with the puck in both ends of the ice. #Sabres— Brayton J. Wilson (@BJWilsonWGR) November 17, 2019
So impressive, in fact, that he wouldn’t play in Rochester again for a whole two months. Instead, Asplund found himself comfortably on the NHL roster. He potted his first assist in a November 27 game against Calgary, then scored his first NHL goal on December 2 against New Jersey. Overall, he put up three points in 29 games and recorded 36 shots on goal while averaging 10:50 per game.
Asplund was re-assigned to the AHL on January 18, but spent only about two weeks with the Amerks before once again being called up by Buffalo. This time, it was a short stint - just a one-game trip - before he spent the remainder of the season in Rochester.
Asplund averaged 0.57 points per game in the AHL, higher than his average of 0.55 points per game the previous season with Rochester. And, of course, he had the lengthy stint in Buffalo, which gave him a chance to showcase his skills at the highest level - and clearly, Sabres brass thought he did well, since they kept him in the NHL for so long.
So what happens in the fall for Asplund? He’s still on his entry-level contract, and it’s certainly possible that he makes a push for a full-time NHL roster spot from the beginning of the season.
As of this writing, the Sabres have just four forwards secured for next season: Jack Eichel, Jeff Skinner, Kyle Okposo and Marcus Johansson. Wayne Simmonds, Michael Frolik, Jimmy Vesey, Zemgus Girgensons and Johan Larsson are all set to become unrestricted free agents. Sam Reinhart, Dominik Kahun, Victor Olofsson and Curtis Lazar will all be restricted free agents.
You have to think that much of the decision surrounding where Asplund starts off the regular season rests on how he performs at training camp and in the preseason, as well as how the Sabres are able to re-sign and sign other forwards in the offseason.
Season Grade: B+