With Rasmus Asplund’s loan ending this weekend, what’s next?

Rasmus Asplund has spent the past few months in HockeyAllsvenskan, but he’s set to return to the Buffalo Sabres this weekend to prepare for training camp.

The Buffalo Sabres currently have plenty of prospects playing overseas and a good number of them are playing extremely well — Rasmus Asplund being one of them. He’s currently in Sweden playing with Västerås IK in HockeyAllsvenskan, but is set to return to Buffalo this weekend.

HockeyAllsvenskan isn’t the country’s top league (which is the SHL), but it’s the second-tier and there’s still some competition where Asplund is playing. It’s also the same league that Filip Cederqvist and Marcus Davidsson are in.

With 13 games under his belt with Västerås IK, Rasmus Asplund looks like an improved player that’s ready to compete for more time in the NHL.

He most recently scored his 4th goal of the season on Wednesday, November 11th. It was his 3rd goal in his past 5 games. The goal came at even strength, which is what we like to see.

Here’s a look at his latest:

As the top-line center, he has 4 goals and 5 assists with the team, but that’s not even what’s most impressive.

First off, we have to mention the two overtime goals — one of which occurred on November 1st and the other on November 6th. It shows that he’s always fighting hard out there, from beginning to end. Oh, and while his third goal of the season didn’t come in overtime, it did come on the powerplay.

That brings us to the next point. Of Rasmus Asplund’s 8 points with Västerås IK, 5 of them have come on the powerplay and 4 of them were assists. He’s definitely showing a lot of poise with the man advantage, though you do wish we saw the same production at even strength.

Despite playing well, Rasmus Asplund and Västerås IK decided not to sign an extension. Instead, Asplund wants to start preparing for Buffalo Sabres’ training camp.

When Rasmus Asplund returns to the Sabres, he’ll be competing for a starting role in the bottom-six. He spent 29 games with the team last season, his first season in the NHL. He finished with just 1 goal and 2 assists, which is why the confidence gained with Västerås IK is important.

As of right now, however, there isn’t a lot of room for him. Despite being able to play center or wing, both positions are currently full.

Trading for Eric Staal, re- signing Curtis Lazar, and signing Cody Eakin pretty much rounds out the center position for Buffalo, which also features Jack Eichel.

As far as the wing, the Sabres re-signed Zemgus Girgensons and Tage Thompson, signed Taylor Hall and Tobias Rieder, and have Kyle Okposo under contract. Keep in mind, Buffalo also has Dylan Cozens, Victor Olofsson, Jeff Skinner, and Sam Reinhart on the wing.

Tage Thompson is one player he could compete with, but there are other players competing for that same role — enter Casey Mittelstadt and Arttu Ruotsalainen. With the contract given to Thompson, it’s clear the Buffalo Sabres are pulling for Thompson to take that next step.

That likely leaves Rasmus Asplund, Casey Mittelstadt, and Arttu Ruotsalainen off the Sabres’ opening day roster.

Of course, that only means good things for the Rochester Americans, who will likely inherit all three to start their season. I’m not sure about you, but that sounds like a strong group of centers in Rochester, especially if they can continue their development.

Casey Mittelstadt would work well with some proven AHL veterans on the top line. Arttu Ruotsalainen gets his first look at professional hockey in North America with a couple of wings that like to score. And Asplund slides down to the third line center, where he can man his own line with two other prospects.

Asplund’s 108 games in the AHL the past two seasons will bode well, but they need to see more form him this season. He had 10 goals and 31 assists in his first season with Rochester. In limited time (33 games), he recorded another 3 goals and 16 assists last year.

With confidence riding high, I would expect him to take another step this year. Since Casey Mittelstadt would likely be the first person called up when injuries strike, I really want Rasmus Asplund to gain more confidence in the AHL this season.

If the Sabres need him, then use him. Otherwise, let him develop now and bring him up next season when there’s more room on the roster.

Either way, you have to love what we’re seeing from Asplund in Sweden. He has one more game with the team, which is on Friday. Then it’s time to shift towards the Buffalo Sabres.

How about you, Sabres’ fans? What are your thoughts on Rasmus Asplund and how do you think the roster looks with or without him?

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