Adam Almqvist appears to have the talent for a sudden offensive explosion — but the Detroit Red Wings don’t feel he’s getting the ice time to reach his potential.
The 20-year-old defenseman is enjoying another solid season with HV-71, sitting sixth in Swedish Elite League plus-minus with a plus-15 to go along with three goals and eight assists in 39 games.
While Almqvist is averaging more than 19 minutes per game, there are three defensemen ahead of him in ice time and his power-play duties are limited, particularly with HV-71’s Jan. 23 signing of former Red Wings draft pick David Petrasek.
“They have two real high-profile defensemen on that team who they pay a lot more money to, so Adam, somehow, doesn’t get to step forward and do the stuff we feel he can do,” said Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson. “He’s taken a back seat on the power play, and I think he can be a go-to guy on the power play.”
The Red Wings drafted the 5-foot-10, 174-pound blueliner in the seventh round, 210th overall, in 2009 in the hopes he would one day emerge as a Brian Rafalski or a Tobias Enstrom. Tremendous hockey sense, vision and playmaking are known as his best assets.
After a phenomenal J-20 SuperElit career — 70 points in just 56 games over his final two seasons — he cracked the SEL midway through 2009-10 and has steadily developed since.
While he hasn’t blossomed offensively — aside from leading all SEL defensemen in playoff scoring in 2010 en route to a championship — he has made great strides defensively. He has a career plus-46 in his 119 SEL games, including a league-leading plus-20 last season.
“That tells you, even though he’s not big, he plays a good defensive game in terms of thinking and using his stick,” Andersson said.
Andersson didn’t hide his dissatisfaction with Almqvist’s lack of strength development in the lead-up to 2010-11, but said the youngster corrected that problem last summer by training five days a week HV-71 teammate Jesper Fasth.
Andersson described Fasth, a New York Rangers prospect, as a “workout maniac” and the “hardest working guy on the team,” and said he set a good example for Almqvist.
“He (Almqvist) did a really good job in the summer and gained some weight,” Andersson said. “I can’t tell you if it was six or eight pounds, but he did get stronger. He still has another 10-15 pounds to go, but even his coaches were impressed.”
Andersson said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer recently saw Almqvist play and that the former NHLer feels (Almqvist) has “some of the best hockey sense in the whole organization.”
If the situation with HV-71 doesn’t change in the off-season, a move to the American Hockey League with the Grand Rapids Griffins for 2012-13 might be beneficial for Almqvist.
“Just for the fact that he needs to be challenged more,” Andersson said. “If you put him in Grand Rapids, and say this is our power-play man, you can find out what he can do.”
NOTES: Andersson said defenseman Alexei Marchenko (CSKA Moscow, KHL) could return in the next two weeks from a knee injury. He revealed that the 20-year-old didn’t have surgery and has simply been rehabilitating his knee on the advice of German doctors … Andersson also chimed in on winger Teemu Pulkkinen (Helsinki Jokerit, Finnish SM-Liiga) after watching him at the IIHF world junior championship. Andersson said Pulkkinen gave a “better effort than I expected” and that “we might have a poor-man’s Brett Hull on our hands because he has a hell of a shot.” … He also gave his two cents on Slovak prospects Tomas Jurco (Saint John, QMJHL) and Marek Tvrdon (Vancouver, WHL). “Jurco was the guy with better intensity, I felt,” Andersson said. “Tvrdon showed some stuff I like — he’s a big body and he has a good feel for the game — but looks like his intensity has to come up a bit.” … Forward Gustav Nyquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) had an assist and was a minus-1 in the AHL All-Star Game on Monday.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||39||9||8||17||9||+1||95|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||34||6||7||13||27||0||44|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||39||12||28||40||14||0||107|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||43||12||20||32||33||+2||137|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||40||11||14||25||20||+6||86|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||32||4||5||9||19||-4||54|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||30||3||3||6||69||-2||38|
|Ehrhardt, Travis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||10||0||2||2||13||+6||15|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||43||7||6||13||21||-6||65|
|Pare, Francis||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||43||7||18||25||14||-4||95|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||30||1||4||5||15||+2||53|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||39||7||6||13||20||0||55|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||37||8||15||23||53||+5||79|
|Piche, Sebastien||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||19||0||2||2||18||-7||16|
|Pyett, Logan||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||41||1||15||16||26||-1||105|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||11||2||1||3||2||-1||17|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||PRO||AHL||3||1||1||2||2||0||1|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||JR||WHL||50||4||23||27||65||-22||N/A|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||JR||OHL||42||11||21||32||41||+17||N/A|
|Jurco, Tomas||Saint John||JR||QMJHL||36||25||29||54||27||+33||150|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||COL||NCAA||28||5||14||19||2||+5||52|
|Nicastro, Max||Boston U.||COL||NCAA||22||2||6||8||26||-1||35|
|Sheahan, Riley||Notre Dame||COL||NCAA||25||8||15||23||16||+1||84|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||4||0||0||0||2||-3||2|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||12||1||6||1||1||3.42||.877|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||11||6||4||0||0||3.37||.893|