Adam Almquist’s eye-popping numbers in the Swedish junior ranks are cause for optimism, but nobody should get carried away just yet.
The diminutive 18-year-old defenseman — selected 210th overall in June’s draft — has absolutely torn it up with HV-71’s under-20 team, piling up a sensational five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in just five games.
Those numbers certainly can’t be ignored, even on a dominating team that is 7-0 and has scored a league-high 44 goals. After all, the 5-foot-10, 169-pounder leads his team — and the entire league — in scoring.
But it’s not the first time the Detroit Red Wings have had a prospect dominate that league. A decade ago, Jari Tolsa — a fourth-round pick in 1999 — set the under-20 league record for assists in a 71-point campaign with Frolunda. Tolsa never amounted to more than a checker in the European ranks.
Almquist is a gifted offensive player who knows how to quarterback a power play but will need to get stronger, pick up his skating and improve his defensive play to make an impact at the Swedish Elite League level in the future.
NOTES: Forward Willie Coetzee (Red Deer, Western Hockey League) is off to a great start with 12 points in eight games after signing with the Red Wings as a free agent. He’s their highest-scoring Canadian Hockey League prospect, even out-producing teammate and Red Wings first-rounder Landon Ferraro … Forward Brent Raedeke (Edmonton, WHL) is starting to assert himself and could rapidly climb the prospect ranks in the Darren Helm mold … Miroslav Blatak and Nils Backstrom are no longer on the Red Wings’ organizational reserve list.