In praise of Victor Rask

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It’s been a pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good start to the year for Victor Rask.

Rask, Carolina’s No. 1 center, has 10 points through his first eight games. What’s more, he’s had at least one in every contest, putting him within spitting distance of GM Ron Francis’ franchise-record point streak (Francis went 11 straight to start the ’84-85 campaign).

Rask’s playmaking ability has been a major catalyst in Jeff Skinner‘s season — Skinner sits tied for second in the league with 11 points, despite only playing seven games — and, slowly but surely, the talented Swede is turning heads around the league.

He’s turning his teammates’ heads, too.

“He’s pretty slippery,” veteran winger Lee Stempniak said, per the Raleigh News & Observer. “I’ve been very impressed. He’s a lot better than maybe I had appreciated.”

It’s not overly surprising Rask’s enjoying a breakout campaign.

Or that, prior to this, he flew under the radar.

This is just his third NHL season. He doesn’t play in a marquee market, he’s only 23 years old and while he was a decorated junior — winning gold and silver at the WJC with Sweden, starring for WHL Calgary — he lasted until the 42nd overall pick in his draft year.

But there were signs Carolina had found something special.

Rask avoided a sophomore slump in ’15-16, posting a career-high 21 goals while leading the club in power-play points. He also shouldered a heavy workload, appearing in 80 games while averaging just under 17 minutes per night.

Another sign? This past summer, when Francis signed Rask to a six-year, $24 million extension.

There were a few surprised onlookers, because of the raise — Rask went from making less than a million to $4M annually — and the term caught some off-guard as well, since Rask was a RFA with just two campaigns under his belt.

But Francis knew what he wanted — get Rask locked in for the long haul.

“He is a big part of this team’s present and future,” Francis said at the time. “We are thrilled to sign him to a longer-term deal.”

Rask’s skillset is impressive. The playmaking ability and vision are important — just ask Stempniak, as Rask has assisted on each of his last three goals — but his shooting ability is crucial, too.

Rask has a terrific wrister, which makes both him and the shot-happy Skinner a dual threat every time they’re on the ice.

Related: Carolina has a talented young blueline, too