Rasmussen returns to pursue NHL goal

CHICAGO -- Dennis Rasmussen first remembers wanting to play in the NHL when he traveled from Sweden to attend a Chicago Blackhawks home game as a 7-year-old in 1997.

It was his first trip to the United States, and his father got them tickets right next to the glass. Rasmussen even took home a souvenir puck which traveled into the stands. He still has that puck.

“Ever since I watched that game, I always wanted to be an NHL player,” the 24-year-old Rasmussen said Monday.

Rasmussen is closer now than ever to that goal, and it coincidentally could happen with the Blackhawks. He signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks in June after playing his entire career in Sweden. He returned to Chicago for the first time since he was seven to participate in the Blackhawks' prospect camp this week.

Rasmussen talked with other NHL teams after he decided to pursue an NHL career after his past season in Sweden. He opted for the Blackhawks because of their playing style and their winning tradition.

Rasmussen does understand the obstacle of playing in the NHL for the Blackhawks. They already have depth at center, his primary position, and on their wings. Still, he’s out to play in the NHL.

“My biggest goal here from the start is take a spot on the team,” he said. “That’s going to be my goal the whole summer when I work out and when I’m here. When I come in the beginning of September, that’s going to be my same goal there. I can’t have another goal. I wanted to come here to play in the NHL.

“I really like the challenge. It’s a great team. Of course, if you’re close to getting the Stanley Cup, it’s a great team. It’s tough to get into the team, but I think I have a chance. I’m going to go for it. That’s my goal.”

Rasmussen has size at 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds and displayed an overall two-way game in Sweden. He had 16 goals, 24 assists and was a plus-6 in 52 regular-season games for the Vaxjo Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League. He also played for Sweden in the 2014 World Championship.

“[He’s] a big forward with solid speed and defensive value,” ESPN NHL Draft and Prospects analyst Corey Pronman said of Rasmussen. “Put up points this year in the SHL, but likely more a bottom-6 forward in the NHL in a non-power-play role. Played on this year's World Championship squad for Sweden in a lower role.”

Rasmussen described his own game as being “strong with the puck, pretty big body, skate-out situations and get the puck, deliver the pass, give and go, try to create some chances.”

Rasmussen hoped to use the week at the prospect camp to display that game.

“I just want to get on the ice and show everyone I can play,” he said. “I really want to show myself and the other guys and everyone here that the type of player I am. And for myself, I want to be here and see what it feels like what is in the town, the guys, everyone. It’s really fun to be here.”