Two players who could be playing monster minutes in the WHL this season have found themselves playing in the AHL this week.
F Michael Rasmussen, 19, played the past three seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the ninth pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft.
Rasmussen opened this season with the Red Wings and had six goals and seven assists in 41 games when he was assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins this week on one of those conditioning assignments. The Red Wings also have him on long-term injured reserve with a hamstring issue that has kept him out since Jan. 4.
Because he’s 19, Rasmussen isn’t eligible to stay in the AHL. The NHL-NHLPA CBA calls for him to play in the NHL or be returned to the Americans.
He scored twice in his AHL debut on Thursday, as the Griffins beat the host Texas Stars, 5-3.
Meanwhile, D Henri Jokiharju has been assigned by the Chicago Blackhawks to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He spent the previous two seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
Jokiharju, who was the 29th overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had 12 assists in 37 games with the Blackhawks.
In December, Chicago freed him up to play for Finland in the World Junior Championship, where he had two goals and three assists in seven games as his team won the gold medal.
In his first 32 games with Chicago, Jokiharju was playing 20 minutes per game. Of late, however, he been playing fewer than 15 minutes and had been a healthy scratch three times in eight games.
I haven’t seen any mention of Jokiharju being on a conditioning assignment, so I have a feeling that he is there until further notice. Remember late in the summer of 2018 when there was discussion about whether he would have to play for Chicago or be returned to Portland? There was some chatter then that he had been on loan to the Winterhawks from his club team in Finland, so might not be covered by the same CBA clause as someone like Rasmussen.
Perhaps that’s what’s going on here.
The Calgary Hitmen and visiting Brandon Wheat Kings will open the three-game Corral Series tonight. Before it’s over, the Hitmen will have played three games in the Calgary Corral and honoured three teams that used to call it home — the Centennials and Wranglers (WHL) and Cowboys (WHA). . . . The Centennials will be in the spotlight tonight, with the Cowboys to be saluted on Feb. 6 with the Regina Pats in town. The Wranglers will be feted on Feb. 8 when the Hitmen meet the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Todd Saelhof of the Calgary Sun has more right here, including lots of memories.
Don Hay, the winningest coach in WHL history, says he didn’t like the way things ended in Kamloops, but now he is really enjoying life as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . “I didn’t like the way it ended in Kamloops,” Hay told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. “You want to go out under your own terms. This was a good way to stay active, to stay in the league, to continue educating myself in the game.” . . . Hay, whose 65th birthday is fast approaching, never tires of learning, and that’s what he’s doing as he works alongside Mike Johnston, Portland GM and head coach. Yes, Johnston is learning, too. . . . Eggers’ complete story is right here.
Earlier this week, I posted a link to the impact statement that Scott Thomas read during the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who was involved in the accident involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6. . . . On Wednesday, Thomas, who lost his son, Eric, in the accident, spent 15 minutes meeting privately with Sidhu. . . . There’s more on that meeting right here.