Twelve months ago, Rasmus Andersson was a promising young prospect hungry to prove himself at the National Hockey League level. Today, he’s one of the more intriguing pieces of the Calgary Flames roster. The 22-year-old Swede enjoyed a remarkable 2018-19 season and seems poised to expand his role in the Flames roster in the season to come.
We chatted with Andersson last weekend prior to the start of the pre-season schedule.
You had a big season last year. You were the last guy sent down and came up when Travis Hamonic got hurt opening night, and you never left. Was there a point where it struck you that you weren’t coming out of the lineup?
Both yeah and no. Yes, when Hammer got back and I was still in the lineup obviously. But at the same time, until maybe the last 20 games I felt that I had to play good every game because I didn’t want to be out of the lineup. So it was one of the those things. obviously you want to play good every game, but you had that pressure on you that every game could be maybe your last until the last 20 or 30 games really. But when Hammer got back and I still got to play, it was one of those things when you kind of felt like I’m doing something well and the coaches like what they so so I’ve just got to keep going. Obviously when we lost that game 9-1 to Pittsburgh and I was still in the lineup next game, that’s one of those times too when you realize you’ve got to keep doing what you’re doing.
You were waiver exempt last season, but the Flames ended up doing some weird roster things to keep you up and carried eight defensemen for much of the year. It must have made you feel good about your game that they went to all that trouble.
It’s one of those things you don’t really think about, but you think about it, because obviously you want to be here and you want to play. Honestly, all of last year I had a lot of confidence and I believe in myself a lot and I think I played pretty well the whole year. My consistency was really good and I think that’s one of the things you’ve got to be in this league, you’ve got to have good consistency. There’s so many games. There’s basically a game every other night the whole season. Just one of those things. It’s tough mentally, but at the same time this is what you’ve been fighting for kind of your whole life and you’re here, now you just want to take the next step.
It’s obvious how highly everyone in this room thinks of Mark Giordano. It must have been surreal to go from being cut from training camp to playing on a pairing with the guy that won the Norris last year.
You see the lineup and you go ‘oh, today’s going to be a challenge’ not because you’re playing with Gio, but because you’re playing against the top lines every night basically. And Gio, he’s just a real easy player to play with. He talks to you so much on the ice.
I don’t think you realize how good he really is until you play with him.
And that’s when I realized how good he is, and how much he talks and how much he helps you out on the ice, too. Obviously when you play with him you try to give him the puck a little bit more, and that’s what I try to do. I just gotta keep him happy so he wants to play with me in the future, too. I think we played pretty well together in the games we played.
You mentioned not being able to let up last season. Is the key to this season maintaining that desperation and becoming comfortable being uncomfortable?
It’s one of those things. I’ve said it before. I need to have a good camp and I need to have a good start to the season. I don’t really know where I’m playing right now, they have me in the third slot right now with MacDonald. If that’s the case, we’ve got to go out and play our game together and aim higher. You want to play as high as possible and when you get the opportunity, you’ve got to take care of it.
You were used in a lot of different situations last season. Does it give you confidence knowing that the coaching staff was able to trust that they could throw you over the boards in basically any situation and get good minutes from you?
That’s what you want, too. You’ve got to be adjustable. I think, I’m not sure, but I think I’m a pretty easy partner to play with. I played with quite a few guys last year, and you get adjusted with the guys you play with, too. Played with Kylli, played with Vali, played with Prouter, played with Gio, played with Brodes, played with Hanny.
I basically played with everyone except for Hammer… It doesn’t really matter who you play with as long as do well together and the team wins, and I’m fine with playing with whoever they put me with.
This is the last year of your entry level deal, so it’s a contract year. A lot of players are motivated by different things At this point, what motivates you?
Well, obviously, the goal is to win the Cup.
It’s something we all aim for in here and it’s something we all want to do. We had a really strong regular season last year and we want to take the next step, and obviously weren’t happy with the way things ended. But it’s a new season now and we have a really good team, we basically have the same team as last year, so we all have it in here. We were there last year, we just couldn’t figure out the last four games of the year. It’s one of those things. What motivates me?
Obviously you want to make as much money as possible, but what really motivates me is just being a really good player. If you are a really good player, all the other stuff will take care of itself.
So right now I’m focused on taking the next step in my career and to aim as high as possible in the lineup and then we’ll take it from there.