Round 2, Pick 42 – C Victor Rask
The way things have turned out for Victor Rask is, in all honesty, a hockey tragedy. At the start of the 2010-11 season leading up to the 2011 draft, Rask was widely considered to be a potential top-5 pick, after his phenomenal showing in Sweden as a 16/17 year old. Unfortunately, moving up to play against men in the Allsvenskan league (Swe-1) showcased his flaws to scouts, and he struggled during his draft year.
His stock dropped to the point where he wasn’t a sure-fire first rounder. Rask slipped out of the first round, and the Hurricanes pounced on him at 42nd overall, which seemed like really nice value at the time for a player that scouts believed had top-6 potential.
From there, Rask came overseas to continue his development with the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL, and played at 2 World Junior Championships for Sweden. After a year of seasoning and getting up to speed with Charlotte, Rask earned his place on the Carolina Hurricanes’ opening night roster in 2014-15, and never looked back.
Rask had a respectable 33 points as a rookie, and proved to the team that he was a guy worthy of being part of the young foundation moving forward. He took another step forward in 2015–16, setting career highs with 21 goals and 48 points, and despite his obvious skating flaws, looked like he had a real nice career ahead of him.
The Hurricanes had real belief in Rask, and awarded him a 6-year, 24 million dollar contract extension with a $4M AAV, locking in Rask to be a key piece of their group moving forward. Rask immediately delivered on that extension, scoring 32 points in his first 42 games of the 2016-17 season, and looked like a real force – until the calendar struck 2017.
After the new year began, Rask began to look like a shell of himself, and hasn’t been able to get back to his previous form ever since. He scored just 13 points in the following 40 games. In the 2017-18 season, he scored just 31 points, and found himself in coach Bill Peters’ doghouse, relegated to the fourth line for long stretches, was even healthy scratched, and began receiving a ton of criticism from fans.
After a kitchen injury derailed the start of his 2018-19 season, the new Hurricanes regime had their fill of Rask after just 26 games, in which he managed just a single goal and 12:02 of ice time. By the grace of God himself, Rask was then traded to Minnesota for forward Nino Niederreiter, a trade so inexplicably senseless for the Wild that sources claimed the Wild never even scouted Rask.
Niederreiter went on to score 14 goals and 30 points in 36 games with Carolina after finding immediate chemistry with Sebastian Aho. Rask, on the other hand, had just 3 points in 23 games with the Wild, and, with 3 years left on his deal at his 4M AAV, makes this trade arguably the biggest steal in Hurricanes history.
In reflection, Rask never reached his potential with the Hurricanes, and his gradual decline makes his draft selection rather disappointing. However, using him to acquire Nino Niederreiter, a guy who’s made an immediate impact and figures to continue that way for the Hurricanes makes the whole Rask debacle very solid in retrospect. For that, the Rask selection deserves….