Flames betting on Andersson’s upside with long-term extension

Calgary Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson (4) attacks with the puck as Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) defends in the first period of an NHL hockey game. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Shortly after putting the wraps on the Chicago Blackhawks and saying an emotional goodbye to his father, Rasmus Andersson climbed onto the team bus and looked at his phone.

It was there he found an email worth $27.3 million.

“I saw the deal once I got on the bus and I sent it to him right away and we Facetimed on the bus,” said Andersson, painting the type of picture people dream of.

“It was a little hard [to keep it hush-hush]. We talked about it a little bit [Wednesday] morning and about the possibility and he was really happy and proud. It was a cool thing for him to see and share with him.”

The type of fatherly dedication that saw Peter leave his coaching job in Malmo, Sweden to fly 14,000 km roundtrip to see his son for two days of the father’s trip, paid off for the family with a six-year contract extension signed by Rasmus Wednesday. It pays $4.55 million annually.

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On the surface, casual Flames fans might suggest it far exceeds the type of price tag you’d expect for a third-pairing defenceman with just three goals, 12 points and a minus-11 rating this season.

However, this is all about the upside of a 23-year-old that is far more fitter, focused and proven than he was two summers ago.

It was then the second-round selection from the Barrie Colts decided to spend seven weeks of his summer in Calgary dedicating himself to proving he was capable of carving off pounds and physically shaping himself into a player destined to be on the Flames top pairing alongside Mark Giordano next season.

“Now that I look back at it after signing this deal, it was probably the best decision of my life,” said Andersson, whose fitness levels had a long way to go to get to the rock-solid, six-foot-one, 214-pound physique he employs now.

“I don’t have as many points or goals as I’d want at this stage, but still feeling I’m playing solid games. And right now we’re winning games 2-1 and 3-2 as opposed to last year when they were 5-3.

“It was a good time to sign. Even though you keep telling yourself you’re not thinking about it, you’re thinking about it.”

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Slated to be a restricted free agent this summer, Andersson and the Flames started talking contract in the summer, before making the decision to get some games under his belt. He spoke to teammate and fellow Swede Elias Lindholm about the luxury and security of having a six-year deal.

He also spoke regularly with his close pal, Colorado’s Andre Burakovsky, who lamented the perils and stress of continually playing on short-term pacts.

“It’s about so much money and security and I just wanted to go out and play and didn’t want to think about this anymore, so we felt like we came to an agreement this morning and it was a pretty easy decision to make.”

The same also goes for Treliving.

“There’s always projections involved, but he’s a good player who is only going to get better,” said the Flames GM, who has clearly made another savvy signing.

“What people don’t see is he’s a real competitive guy. The kind you want in your organization. You can never have enough of that. To get him locked in at that number… good deal for him. Nice to have that security at 23. And I think it will be a good deal for us.”

Brad Treliving on Rasmus Andersson contract extension
January 08 2020

Treliving insists even though Andersson’s fitness levels were questioned for some time, he never doubted he was an NHLer.

“His talent was good enough to get him into the league – the only question was how good he was going to let himself be,” said Treliving, who now has three of his current blueliners signed for next year – Giordano, Noah Hanifin and Andersson. (Injured Jusso Valimaki is also under contract).

“He came up here a couple of years ago and didn’t play, but was watching and getting a taste of it and seeing how pros operate. This guy is an intelligent kid and he took it all in.

“He’s not the first guy to work on stuff and he dug in and made sure he was going to have every chance to not only make our team but make the levels I think he’s capable of.

“He figured it out. I’m very proud of him and told him that many times. To me, he’s on his way.”

Andersson: "It was a pretty easy decision" to sign for six more years in Calgary
January 08 2020

Andersson starts most games on the third pairing this year but his versatility has him killing penalties and manning the second power-play unit with his heavy shot.

At times he switches with TJ Brodie on the top unit, which is something very few doubt he’ll do full time next year when Brodie’s contract expires.

Treliving won’t peg him as his future top-pairing defenceman, but by virtue of being their best right-shot defenceman it’s clearly his gig to lose.

“I’m playing a fair amount of games on the top pairing, so they never tell you next year, ‘you’re going to be a top-pairing defenceman,’ – that’s one of the thing’s you have to work for and then work to keep it and really solidify yourself,” he said.

“That’s my next challenge. It’s a lot of money and now you have to live up to it.”

Treliving refused to comment on how this would affect the possibility of re-signing pending UFA Travis Hamonic.

“I don’t see this impacting anybody – we need as many good players as we can,” said Treliving.

“I don’t like to talk about anyone in particular. We need six defencemen every night and ten throughout a season. We continue to look at other contracts that are up.”


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