If Adam Almquist makes it to the NHL, his offensive game will get him there. And in his first season on North American ice, his offensive game has helped him make a smooth adjustment.
Almquist, an undersized but highly-skilled blueliner from Sweden, is in the midst of a solid American Hockey League rookie campaign, third among Grand Rapids Griffins defensemen with six goals and 17 assists for 23 points in 51 games along with a plus-7 rating.
“He has outstanding poise with the puck and outstanding skill with the puck, so that’s allowed him to be a real good player 5-on-5 and he has a real good skill-set for the power play,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “He can slide along the offensive blue line, show shot and pass, show shot and shoot, and he’s got a real good one-timer. His confidence has increased as the year’s gone on and that’s allowed him to be productive.”
Listed at 5-foot-11 and 173 pounds, the 22-year-old is in the second year of a three-year entry-level contract. The Red Wings wanted him to come to North America because his Swedish Elite League team, HV-71, wasn’t giving him a prominent offensive role. He already has more points than he recorded in any of his three seasons in the SEL.
The man responsible for drafting Almquist in the seventh round (210th overall) of the 2009 draft, Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson, has long listed Almquist’s foot-speed as the biggest drawback that, along with his small stature, could prevent him from becoming an NHLer. But Blashill said Almquist has been “real smart about not putting himself in tough situations” and noted he has learned “how to make plays with the puck in breakout situations without taking big hits” or throwing the puck away.
“I don’t think that will hold him back,” Blashill said.
From Blashill’s perspective, it’s all about production.
“He’s just going to have to prove he’s a real prolific point producer at this level in order to get a legit chance at the next level,” Blashill said. “That’s the reality at his size. It’s just a matter of showing he’s a high-end offensive player as a smaller guy.”
With Brendan Smith and Brian Lashoff in the NHL, the Red Wings don’t have much established professional depth on defense, so Almquist is next in line for a call-up. Although he isn’t quite ready for that at the moment, it’s something he could work toward as early as next season if he continues to emerge offensively.
The Red Wings have a stable of top young defense prospects on the way to Grand Rapids next season: Ryan Sproul, Xavier Ouellet and Alexei Marchenko, along with Mattias Backman and Nick Jensen in 2014-15.
NOTES: Forward Gustav Nyquist traded places in Detroit With Tomas Tatar. At the time of his recall, Nyquist was leading the AHL in scoring by three points (60 to 57, despite two fewer games played) ahead of Syracuse’s Tyler Johnson … Defenseman Nick Jensen (St. Cloud State, NCAA) is garnering consideration for a WCHL all-star spot and is a candidate for WCHA defenseman of the year. St. Cloud State enters the playoffs as the No. 1 seed after posting an 18-9-1 record … Forward Calle Jarnkrok (Brynas, SEL) is one of eight finalists for Swedish Elite League MVP … Right-winger Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL) has climbed to 12th in QMJHL scoring with 82 points in 53 games. Had he not attended the world junior, his pro-rated scoring pace would put him over 100 points and challenging for the league lead. That said, his game still has many flaws … Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) won OHL defenseman of the month for February after recording 21 points in 11 games. He also won the award in December.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||57||23||37||60||32||+11||166|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||55||16||19||35||37||+1||115|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||36||10||17||27||55||+1||84|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||34||3||6||9||35||+6||39|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||36||2||4||6||23||+4||38|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||44||19||20||39||44||+13||147|
|Almqvist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||51||6||17||23||28||+7||67|
|Nicastro, Max||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||18||1||2||3||10||+3||15|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||32||3||5||8||36||+1||26|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||56||16||19||35||25||+13||86|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||49||2||6||8||40||0||60|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||53||10||9||19||82||+4||105|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||56||10||8||18||18||-2||84|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||21||1||3||4||23||-2||15|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||17||2||3||5||2||+1||21|
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||0||-1||0|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||WCHA||NCAA||36||4||24||28||12||+17||59|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||USHL/JR-A||BCHL||53||5||19||24||19||–||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||CHL||OHL||48||20||45||65||43||+3||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||CHL||WHL||70||6||20||26||103||-13||–|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||44||4||5||9||6||-2||46|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||24||14||9||1||2||2.75||.899|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||3||0||0||4.32||.847|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||31||20||9||1||1||2.25||.919|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||KHL||EUR-PRO||5||0||1||1||0||-1||8|