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09-24-2003, 10:26 AM
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Rasmussen stepping it up on draws

Wednesday, September 24, 2003


Eric Rasmussen may have found his niche.

The 26-year-old Devils' forward, who signed with the team as an unrestricted free agent July 25, knows that making himself valuable in any area could be his ticket to a spot on the team. And by showing he can win faceoffs in training camp and early in the preseason, he could fill one of the Devils' biggest needs.

After losing Joe Nieuwendyk to free agency and choosing to not re-sign Pascal Rheaume, the Devils are in need of at least one other center - besides John Madden - who can win draws. Nieuwendyk was their best faceoff man last season, and the Devils missed him dearly when he sat out the Stanley Cup Finals with a torn oblique muscle.

Rasmussen got off to a good start by winning eight of 12 draws in his preseason debut with the Devils on Friday night in Philadelphia. He attempted to build on that performance in Tuesday night's rematch with the Flyers - a 3-0 victory - at Sovereign Bank Arena in Trenton.

"Anything you can do to help win and make yourself valuable in certain situations, anybody's chances [to make the team] improve then," Rasmussen said. "It's something you've just got to stay focused on and be ready to do. Whenever you get the puck, it's time of possession, wherever you are on the ice. It makes it a lot easier."