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Axelsson still on Red Wings’ radar

Published Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 12:01 a.m. under 2010-11 RWC Reports
Dick Axelsson

Dick Axelsson on the ice at Red Wings training camp in Traverse City in 2009. (Credit: Sarah Lindenau)

If Dick Axelsson wants to bypass the American Hockey League, the Detroit Red Wings are willing to let him. But he has to earn it.

“We’ve told him, ‘We’re going to keep your rights, but if you feel this is a challenge you want to take up, let us know and we’ll bring you to training camp,'” said Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson. “‘If you make the Red Wings, great, if you can’t, it’s back to Europe.'”

As of now, it appears the 23-year-old left-winger is content to return to the Swedish Elite League next season. It also appears he isn’t quite ready to make the jump to the NHL just yet, and no one is sure if he ever will be.

Axelsson, an enigmatic talent who plays for Farjestad of the Swedish Elite League, had 15 goals and 15 assists for 30 points in 47 games this season while pilling up 126 penalty minutes. He also has four goals and two assists in nine playoff games and is currently competing in the SEL semifinals.

He also has seen time on the national team and led the LG Hockey Games in scoring in February with two goals and four assists in three games.

“He is an improved player this year,” Andersson said. “When he played his best hockey this year, he’s NHL level. There’s no doubt about it. He’s stronger, he’s more mature and he’s been dominating on the national team.”

But Axelsson has always been, and continues to be, wildly inconsistent.

“When he’s playing his best, he’s NHL good … Now, the problem is, when he plays his worst, he’s American League bad,” Andersson said.

How often is he at his best?

“Not enough,” Andersson said.

Andersson recalls Axelsson scoring a third-period natural hat trick on Oct. 30. Not long after, went nine games with just three assists.

“He scored three straight goals, and they were all highlight-reel goals, and everyone was raving the next day that this guy is just unbelievable when he wants to play,” Andersson said. “But some nights when he just doesn’t feel like playing, he’s just floating around out there like another body.”

Andersson, who plucked Axelsson out of Sweden’s seldom-scouted third-tier professional league in 2006, has long raved about the 6-foot-2 188-pounder’s rare combination of speed, skill, size and hockey sense. In 2007, Andersson described him as a “more talented version of Mikael Samuelsson.”

Only Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Dmitri Bykov and Johan Franzen have made the jump from Europe to the Red Wings in recent years without any minor-league seasoning. Axelsson’s three-year entry-level deal expires this summer, but the Red Wings can hang onto his rights as a restricted free agent.

NOTES: Center Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, Swedish Elite League) saw his season come to an abrupt end recently when his shoulder popped out. That’s a big setback in his off-season training, as he basically can’t do anything for three months … Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame, NCAA) assisted on both goals in a 2-1 win over New Hampshire on Sunday to propel his team to the Frozen Four … Right-winger Mitchell Callahan (Kelowna, WHL) has four goals and an assist through three playoff games and continues to impress … Center Cory Emmerton signed a new three-year contract that is one-way in its final two seasons. It’s an indication that the Red Wings see him as a potentially solid piece of their future … The Grand Rapids Griffins, 35-29-8, remain in a fight for their AHL playoff lives.

Following is this week’s statistical update.

SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Nestrasil, Andrej P.E.I. QMJHL 58 19 51 70 40 +13 160
Fournier, Gleason Rimouski QMJHL 57 12 32 44 58 -4 106
Aubry, Louis-Marc Montreal QMJHL 35 13 12 25 26 +8 98
Parkes, Trevor Montreal QMJHL 60 33 29 62 32 +26 210
Ferraro, Landon Everett WHL 41 10 17 27 51 -1
Callahan, Mitchell Kelowna WHL 62 23 31 54 87 +4
Macek, Brooks Tri-City WHL 63 13 28 41 36 -13
Stolyarov, Gennady Dynamo Msk KHL 20 2 4 6 23 -8 32
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit FIN 55 18 36 54 32 +23
Almquist, Adam HV-71 SEL 52 0 16 16 32 +20 62
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas SEL 49 11 16 27 4 -3 77
Axelsson, Dick Farjestad SEL 47 15 15 30 126 +4 90
Axelsson, Anton Timra SEL 28 5 8 13 4 -2 25
Samuelsson, Jesper Vita Hasten SWE-3 31 10 23 33 41 +25 99
Smith, Brendan Grand Rapids AHL 57 12 20 32 113 +7 104
Mursak, Jan Grand Rapids AHL 51 13 22 35 35 +17 124
Tatar, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL 64 23 32 55 43 +15 147
Pare, Francis Grand Rapids AHL 74 23 30 53 49 -13 217
Ehrhardt, Travis Grand Rapids AHL 47 4 11 15 34 +1 55
Pyett, Logan Grand Rapids AHL 68 9 12 21 36 -5 128
Andersson, Joakim Grand Rapids AHL 73 6 14 20 26 -1 100
Emmerton, Cory Grand Rapids AHL 59 11 26 37 22 +3 114
Coetzee, Willie Grand Rapids AHL 25 0 5 5 8 -7 42
Kolosov, Sergei Grand Rapids AHL 53 0 1 1 46 -17 49
Lashoff, Brian Grand Rapids AHL 33 0 3 3 21 -5 24
Owens, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 60 6 14 20 101 -12 95
Filppula, Ilari Grand Rapids AHL 70 20 42 62 22 +2 122
Raedeke, Brent Grand Rapids AHL 63 7 5 12 17 0 71
Piche, Sebastien Grand Rapids AHL 11 0 2 2 13 -4 15
Piche, Sebastien Toledo ECHL 45 10 20 30 50 -9 160
Coetzee, Willie Toledo ECHL 33 9 10 19 4 -3 121
Rufenach, Bryan Toledo ECHL 3 1 1 2 4 +5 1
Lashoff, Brian Toledo ECHL 3 0 1 1 0 -1 10
Nyquist, Gustav Maine NCAA 36 18 33 51 20 0 140
Nicastro, Max Boston U. NCAA 38 5 4 9 59 -9 44
Oslund, Nick St. Cloud St. NCAA 30 3 1 4 10 -2 50
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud St. NCAA 38 5 18 23 18 -5 58
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame NCAA 39 5 17 22 22 -6 100
Rufenach, Bryan Clarkson NCAA 33 4 6 10 14 -1 94
Cayer, Julien Clarkson NCAA 25 3 5 8 22 +3 28
Marshall, Ben Omaha USHL 52 11 20 31 32 +22 134

SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Axelsson, Dick Farjestad SEL 9 4 2 6 18 +5 17
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas SEL 3 3 0 3 2 +1 7
Almquist, Adam HV-71 SEL 2 0 0 0 0 -2 3
Nestrasil, Andrej P.E.I. QMJHL 3 1 2 3 2 +3 9
Fournier, Gleason Rimouski QMJHL 3 1 1 2 12 -1 9
Aubry, Louis-Marc Montreal QMJHL 3 1 0 1 0 +1 9
Parkes, Trevor Montreal QMJHL 3 1 1 2 4 +3 22
Callahan, Mitchell Kelowna WHL 3 4 1 5 0 +4
Ferraro, Landon Everett WHL 2 0 0 0 6 0
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit FIN 3 0 1 1 0 0

GOALIES: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L T SO GAA SV%
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 52 33 15 3 2 2.84 .920
Larsson, Daniel HV-71 SEL 46 2 2.51 .917
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 20 6 11 2 1 3.18 .881
Pearce, Jordan Toledo ECHL 8 3 4 1 1 4.13 .883
Pearce, Jordan Grand Rapids AHL 38 19 11 5 1 2.96 .905
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 23 11 9 2 3 2.76 .909

GOALIES: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L SO GAA SV%
Larsson, Daniel HV-71 SEL 2 0 2.58 .894
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 2 0 1 0 6.96 .852


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