Since being drafted in the second round in 2015, Rasmus Andersson‘s career has been on an upward trajectory. The 23-year-old is entering his third full season and he is undoubtedly the top choice on the right side of the Flames’ blueline. But how does he stack up among top pairing defenders league-wide?
First, let’s compare him to the top pairing defender he will be replacing, T.J. Brodie. Because Brodie and Andersson have both been paired with the other half of Calgary’s top pair, Mark Giordano, we can start by comparing the effectiveness of the Giordano/Brodie and Giordano/Andersson pairings last year. All statistics are all-situations, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.
Clearly, a top pair of Giordano and Andersson has worked well in the past, even slightly better than the Giordano/Brodie pair. This could explain the Flames contentious decision to move on from Brodie this off-season, especially considering Andersson is locked in on a relatively inexpensive six-year contract.
Unfortunately, the question isn’t whether Andersson can play alongside one of the greatest Flames defensemen of all time, it’s whether he is ready for the responsibility independent from his defensive partner. Meaning, on his own, is Andersson a top-pair quality defenseman? Is he ready to be the number one guy if age continues to treat Giordano poorly, or if Giordano is hurt during the season?
Considering there are 62 top pairing jobs available in the league, if Andersson ranks into at least the top 62 defensemen in important performance metrics, then it’s one way of many to test if he is ready to be a top pair defender, regardless of who his partner may be.
Below are a few important performance metrics to evaluate Andersson’s performance last year compared to other defenseman with at least 1,000 minutes played. In brackets are his rank in each category, and in the bottom row are Giordano’s numbers to give some context.
|Rasmus Andersson||1395:30 (58)||51.8 (43)||52.9 (33)||53.0 (34)||55.7 (19)|
|Mark Giordano||1432:55 (47)||51.1 (50)||51.5 (49)||51.0 (52)||53.0 (40)|
Andersson finished well within the top 62 in every category, even outperforming Giordano, although Giordano faced more difficult competition. Andersson was also second among Flames defensemen in terms of even strength ice time and third in ice time at any strength state. During this season’s playoffs he was leaned on once again, not only playing the second most minutes among defensemen, but playing them while starting the majority of shifts in his own end.
Until now the results in Andersson’s young career have been entirely positive, and at such a young age, there is still lots of room for him to improve. If he does continue to improve and solidify his status as a top pairing defenseman, he could be poised to become one of the league’s best bargains.