After signing a six-year, $24 million contract last July and being named one of the Hurricanes’ alternate captains, Rask looked like he was going to be a leader on the ice after opening the season with 15 points in his first 17 games. However, he was wildly inconsistent after that, scoring just eight goals over his last 65 games. He went pointless during one 14-game stretch from mid-January to mid-February and finished the season with just 45 points and a minus-10 rating. At just 24 years old, there is still plenty of time for Rask to establish himself as a legitimate top-six player in the NHL, but he needs to develop more consistency on a nightly basis. Cracking the 50-point plateau would be an important first step.
Rask took a big step up in his second NHL season, tallying 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) in 80 appearances, a 15-point spike over his rookie campaign. Primarily splitting time between the second and third lines last season, the 23-year-old Swede should be back in the mix for a top-six role. Specifically, he is a leading candidate to center the Canes’ second line in the absence of longtime captain Eric Staal, who was traded to the Rangers in February and subsequently signed with Minnesota in the offseason. Rask did have minor shoulder surgery in May, but the Hurricanes expect him to be healthy prior to the start of the upcoming campaign. Having signed a six-year, $24 million contract in July, the young pivot will be a building block of the franchise for years to come.
Expectations were high right out of the gate for Rask last year, as he was tabbed early on by GM Ron Francis as one of the rookies who was expected to make the team out of training camp. In fact, not only did Rask secure himself a roster spot following a strong preseason, but he was bumped up to center the team’s first line after Jordan Staal opened the season on IR with a broken leg. Overall, Rask enjoyed a very productive rookie season, finishing the year with 33 points in 80 games. This upcoming season, Rask is expected to return to his role as the team’s second-line center alongside Nathan Gerbe and Chris Terry.
A former second-round pick by the Hurricanes in 2011, Rask, 21, seems to be on the cusp of an arrival to the parent club. The 21-year-old supplied 16 goals and 23 assists over 76 games with AHL Charlotte last season, his second in the minors. After an impressive showing in the annual prospects tournament in Traverse City, Mich. in September, Rask will be given the opportunity to earn a roster spot with the ‘Canes out of training camp. He’ll face some stiff competition for the spot, and would more than likely be relegated to a third- or fourth-line role in his rookie season, if he makes the squad.