CHICAGO — The first thing you notice about Michael Rasmussen is his size.
This is a big kid the Detroit Red Wings just drafted out of the Western Hockey League.
Rasmussen stands 6-foot-6 and weighs around 215 pounds. The 18-year-old center scored 32 goals in 50 games for the Tri-City Americans last season.
“I’ve got a big wing span, so I protect the puck well,” he said after going ninth overall Friday at United Center. “When I have the puck, I pride myself on not getting it taken from me.”
For the Red Wings, this is a big pick in another way. Amazingly, Rasmussen is the first top-10 selection the organization has made since 1991, when Martin Lapointe was drafted 10th overall.
In other words, GM Ken Holland better be right about this kid.
Read more: A very different draft for Detroit
To realize his potential in the NHL, Rasmussen knows he’ll need to get faster on the ice.
“Obviously, being a big guy it’s tough to get a bigger frame around,” he said. “It’s something I’ll work hard on this summer with my speed coach. It’s something I need to improve for sure.”
A Vancouver native, Rasmussen was naturally a Canucks fan growing up. He particularly admired the Sedin twins, Henrik and Daniel.
“They were always in the community and giving back,” he said. “That’s something I admire, even more than their play. They’re amazing leaders and amazing people. They’ve done a lot for the city of Vancouver.”
Now Rasmussen hopes to do a lot for his future home and team.
“I think it was one of my hopes that I could go to Detroit,” he said. “My combine meeting went really well. It was in my mind that this was a place that I really wanted to go to. It’s a dream come true definitely.”