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Defense plus, opportunity minus for Almquist

Published Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 12:01 p.m. under 2011-12 RWC Reports
Adam Almquist

Adam Almquist (Credit: HV-71)

Adam Almquist 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 Almquist 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 Almquist’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 Almquist.

“He (Almquist) 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 Almquist play and that the former NHLer feels (Almquist) 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 Almquist.

“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 Alexey 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

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
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
Fournier, Gleason Toledo PRO ECHL 40 2 13 15 21 -8 84
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo PRO ECHL 27 3 16 19 12 -6 51
Parkes, Trevor Toledo PRO ECHL 4 4 0 4 2 +1 17
Ouellet, Xavier B.-Boisbriand JR QMJHL 46 16 27 43 56 0 134
Macek, Brooks Calgary JR WHL 44 14 21 35 19 +10 N/A
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current JR WHL 50 4 23 27 65 -22 N/A
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver JR WHL 42 18 32 50 30 -3 N/A
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie JR OHL 42 11 21 32 41 +17 N/A
Quine, Alan Peterborough JR OHL 46 19 28 47 17 -13 N/A
Jurco, Tomas Saint John JR QMJHL 36 25 29 54 27 +33 150
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville JR QMJHL 19 3 1 4 10 -3 40
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
Cayer, Julien Clarkson COL NCAA 23 6 3 9 28 +1 40
Marshall, Ben Minnesota COL NCAA 29 3 6 9 27 +14 62
Sheahan, Riley Notre Dame COL NCAA 25 8 15 23 16 +1 84
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 40 14 17 31 6 +4 172
Almquist, Adam HV-71 EUR SEL 39 3 8 11 24 +15 64
Axelsson, Dick MoDo EUR SEL 29 9 9 18 53 -8 67
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 43 12 18 30 10 -5 97
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 31 1 6 7 12 +6 45
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 4 0 0 0 2 -3 2

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Mrazek, Petr Ottawa OHL 36 22 8 5 2 2.82 .917
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
McCollum, Thomas Toledo ECHL 13 5 6 1 0 2.68 .905
8 Comments
  1. sheckman9 says:

    Great report! Fabulous job by the scouts and player development folks (as always)!! It’s crazy to think we’re maybe on the verge of a new era of Red Wing hockey every bit as good as those that have come before it… LOTS of potential in these young guys.

  2. Nhlrick says:

    Good read. Keep up the solid work!

  3. Joakim says:

    Without any special knowledge, actually I’m utterly uninformed, I say: Bring the Almqvist kid to Grand Rapids. He could benefit from a change of scenery, getting out of his comfort zone, and becoming all about hockey. Chelios and Fischer can take him under their wings, discuss the pros and cons of different actions in various situations, and instruct him on how to take his game to the next level. He’ll see the work ethic of Kronwall, Zetterberg and many others who Almqvist likely looks up to.

  4. Mike says:

    I know this is sort of off topic when discussing prospects in depth, but I wonder about a hypothetical situation. I wonder, if the wings were to somehow land a guy like Suter this season or through FA, and Lidstrom retires, what the D pairings will look like. I assume Smith, especially with 5’s retirement, will get a spot in the NHL next season.

    In regards to the article, very well written. I love being notified about how the prospects are doing. And, great to hear about the input on Pulkinnen. I have high hopes that he can be a decent scoring threat in the NHL in a few years

  5. sheckman9 says:

    Joakim, I’d love to see that… seems a little late in the season to happen this year, but maybe he’ll get a “tryout”. He should certainly be in GR next year…

    Mike, If they lose Stuart and gain Suter… Commodore would be a good re-sign. That doesn’t leave room for Smith again. I don’t think they’ll stick Smith in the #7 spot, bc he won’t get enough ice time, but at the same time it doesn’t make sense for Smith and Almquist to both run the PP in GR… or maybe that’s not such a bad thing. There could very well be a trade either this summer or beginning of next year if this log-jam gets too bad.

    I think Smith has to be in Detroit next year, I don’t think Lidstrom is going to retire, I think we’ll lose Stuart, and I think they’ll do just about everything in their power to get their hands on Suter this offseason (if he wants a nearly gauranteed HOF career, it won’t take too much)… but I may be wrong.

  6. dvdsnhockey says:

    Guys I really hate to say this but as far as Suter goes I can’t imagine the Wings being able to sign him. The types of contracts that teams like Toronto and Philly will offer him will make him way out of reach. Yes he is an excellent defenseman but again those two teams will way over pay for him. Its time to bring in D Smith and find another decent d man until our prospects get closer to playing. On the other hand I really hope I’m wrong about Suter. I would love to see him in Detroit.

  7. sheckman9 says:

    Although that is usually the case, I believe the Wings are willing and able to spend this time. They did it with Rafalski and I believe they will do it again. I also have a hunch that Suter is smart enough to know he’ll have a very strong and stable carreer in Detroit, whereas those other teams will maybe offer more, but will throw him away as soon as he shows signs of slowing down or has a bad year. He comes from a hockey family and I’m willing to bet he wants to have a long, stable career… taking a small pay cut to play in Detroit will pay huge dividends for him in the long run with the respect the team will pay him, the higher point totals he’ll see, the better chance he’ll have to win cups, the likliness that his career will last longer, the lower pressure he’ll have to shoulder alone and the chance to play with some of the most highly skilled players in the league – players that play the same style in a system that will benefit him. I don’t doubt that Suter will get a good %5M-$6M/yr contract though (they may work it to be near Kronwall’s cap hit though)… and that’s no chump change. — Just my feeling.

  8. alex says:

    Sure Almqvist is a great player. I have seen him 20 Times this year. But He Can’t shoot. Every time He has a chance He pass the puck to somenone else. That’s why he’s not playing powerplay.



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