Surrey native Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans will likely be a first round selection in June’s NHL Entry Draft.

Surrey native Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans will likely be a first round selection in June’s NHL Entry Draft.

Surrey’s Michael Rasmussen highly-rated in NHL draft rankings

Tri-City Americans centre ranked sixth among North American skaters

Listed as six-foot-five, 200 pounds, Michael Rasmussen is hard to overlook.

His size is a major reason why the 17-year-old Surrey native is tabbed as a first-round draft pick at the National Hockey League Entry Draft in Chicago.

His hockey talent also explains why the centre for the Tri-City Americans of the Western Hockey League will likely be claimed among the top 15 players in the June 24 draft.

Rasmussen was listed fifth among North American skaters in the final rankings of NHL Central Scouting released last week. Various websites have Rasmussen getting selected anywhere from third to 18th.

“I try not to look at it too much,” Rasmussen said of the rankings. “I just focus on my training, trying to get better and prepare for next season.”

Back in Surrey after his second full season with the Americans in Kennewick, Wash., Rasmussen knows he is on the radar of several NHL teams but isn’t too concerned about where he will be drafted, or what team he goes to.

“The goal is to get drafted, so it’s always in the back of my mind,” he said of June’s draft, which he will attend. “I’ve talked to a couple of teams during the season, so there’s been teams showing some interest.”

Rasmussen had a very productive season, scoring 32 goals and adding 23 assists in 50 games played, and was leading his team in scoring until he sustained a wrist injury in early February.

Despite missing the final 22 regular season and playoff games with the Americans, Rasmussen impressed enough to improve his stock in the draft rankings. He was sixth in the mid-season rankings, moving up one spot on the final list.

A broken scaphoid bone in his wrist is healing, and he is expected to be 100 per cent when the NHL combine opens May 28 in Buffalo, where top prospects gather for fitness testing and interviews with NHL teams.

Whatever happens at the combine and the draft, Rasmussen will likely be back with the Americans for a third season, one which may well be very successful from a team standpoint.

He will be among 11 forwards eligible to return for the 2017-18 season. “Overall, (last) season went well,” said Rasmussen. “We just came up a bit short in the playoffs.

“But the core group of players will step it up next season. If we get the idea we can accomplish anything, we can do something big next season.”