Cleat Geeks

Get To Know Carolina Hurricanes Defenseman: Rasmus Rissanen

It is only fitting, that since Rasmus Rissanen played in his first NHL game against the Minnesota Wild on March 6th, readers get a chance to know a little more about the Hurricanes young defenseman. In his fourth full professional year in hockey, he has played all of them with the Hurricane’s farm team, the Charlotte Checkers. Rissanen was initially acquired in the 2009 NHL entry draft (6th round). During his time with the Checkers in the AHL, he has posted 7 goals, 29 assists, 232 penalty minutes, and -10 plus/minus.

Rissanen’s younger playing career includes time with Finland’s KalPa U-18 squad (06-08). During 2008, Rissanen represented Finland in the 2008 U-18 World Junior Championships, earning a Bronze medal by upsetting Canada’s team that year. Just prior to coming to North America to play hockey in the WHL, Rissanen was moved up to play 34 games in KalPa Jr., the Finnish Junior League. Once Rissanen was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009, he played in 139 games in 2 seasons for the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. During his time with the Silvertips, he posted 5 goals, 22 assists, 192 penalty minutes and was a +1 plus/minus. In 2011, Rissanen appeared in six games for Finland in the World Junior Championships with a +1 plus/minus.

Rissanen continues to build upon his game and the Carolina Hurricanes have obviously noticed his improvements, hence the call up to play against the Minnesota Wild. When Rissanen was asked what it meant to him to be called up, he responded “This is my fourth year and first call up, so, very excited…., I had a lot of good games down there (Charlotte Checkers) and I think I’m ready to play here.” Also making his night even more special, was the fact that his parents were both able to fly to Raleigh, North Carolina from Finland, to enjoy his first game in the NHL. During his game against the Wild, Rissanen had 21 shifts on ice, playing 16:01 minutes and was a -2 plus/minus.

After the game, Rissanen was asked how he felt going into his very first NHL game. “I was a little bit nervous at the start. After a couple of shifts I felt comfortable.” Asked if he thought it was everything he thought it would be, Rissanen stated, “It was a little bit faster I thought. Guys were making plays a lot faster and harder than the AHL.” It wasn’t until the 2nd period that Rissanen felt he really got comfortable. He believes that his next game in the NHL will be a lot easier now that he’s had his chance to play in the world’s most premier hockey league.

Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach: Bill Peters

Carolina Hurricanes Head Coach: Bill Peters

After the players concluded their interviews, Head Coach Bill Peters came out to speak with the media. During his interview, he was asked what he thought of his young defenseman’s play. “I thought he was fine. I didn’t think we were very good in general, so I don’t think we gave him much support. We looked unorganized, we looked disinterested so, you know.., I thought he was fine. I didn’t think he stood out in a negative way at all. I didn’t think we made a lot of plays, so he fit in, in that regard.” According to Bill Peters, Rissanen will continue to get a shot in the NHL. “We’ll watch him here a little bit tonight and then get him back in on Sunday.”

The NHL is one of the most competitive sports to break in to. For a defenseman, it is even harder to earn a line spot, considering all of the aspects to the game that they must be accountable for. Rissanen hopes to continue to build and solidify himself on the Carolina Hurricanes hockey club. This is a team that looks to progressively become a more legitimate contender in the ranks of the NHL. Time will tell whether Rissanen’s game will progress with a team that has a lot of strong points to their game. He has worked hard to get this far, and the Hurricanes have opened up this opportunity for him. It is now on him to keep the opportunity alive.


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