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Almquist making his mark as AHL rookie

Published Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:47 a.m. under 2012-13 RWC Reports
Adam Almquist

Adam Almquist (Credit: Mark Newman)

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 Alexey 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

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
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
Almquist, 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
Coetzee, Willie Toledo ECHL PRO 54 23 30 53 16 +1 226
Nestrasil, Andrej Toledo ECHL PRO 40 11 30 41 26 +17 113
Fournier, Gleason Toledo ECHL PRO 10 0 0 0 8 +5 11
Parkes, Trevor Toledo ECHL PRO 9 9 9 18 2 +1 48
Jensen, Nick St. Cloud State WCHA NCAA 36 4 24 28 12 +17 59
Marshall, Ben Minnesota WCHA NCAA 36 6 11 17 20 +17 59
McKee, Mike Lincoln USHL/JR-A USHL 40 3 18 21 292 +13 60
De Haas, James Penticton USHL/JR-A BCHL 53 5 19 24 19
Frk, Martin Halifax CHL QMJHL 53 35 47 82 84 +29 170
Ouellet, Xavier Blainville-Boisbriand CHL QMJHL 49 10 31 41 44 +15 163
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville CHL QMJHL 62 14 20 34 58 +2 133
Sproul, Ryan Sault Ste. Marie CHL OHL 48 20 45 65 43 +3
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie CHL OHL 63 28 36 64 28 +12
Quine, Alan Belleville CHL OHL 52 22 43 65 20 +10
Tvrdon, Marek Vancouver CHL WHL 18 8 14 22 16 +2
Nedomlel, Richard Swift Current CHL WHL 70 6 20 26 103 -13
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas EUR SEL 53 13 29 42 12 -2 136
Backman, Mattias Linkoping EUR SEL 53 2 24 26 34 +5 67
Pulkkinen, Teemu Jokerit EUR FIN 59 14 20 34 49 +5 260
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow EUR KHL 44 4 5 9 6 -2 46
Bodin, Rasmus Tranas EUR SWE-3 6 0 3 3 0 -5
Bodin, Rasmus HV-71 EUR-JR SWE-J20 13 0 1 1 10 -1 11

GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT

NAME TEAM LEAGUE GP W L O/S SO GAA SV%
Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 48 24 18 4 1 3.57 .900
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
Mrazek, Petr Toledo ECHL 3 2 1 0 0 2.02 .944
Pearce, Jordan Toledo ECHL 28 15 9 3 2 2.70 .902

SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT

NAME TEAM LEVEL LEAGUE GP G A P PIM +/- SOG
Marchenko, Alexey CSKA Moscow KHL EUR-PRO 5 0 1 1 0 -1 8
Jarnkrok, Calle Brynas SEL EUR-PRO 1 0 0 0 0 -1 1
20 Comments
  1. Daryl says:

    Looks like Jarnkrok’s team has already been bounced from the playoffs. Any chance they’ll bring him overseas to continue his development? Would love to see what he can do in the AHL this year.

  2. RW19 says:

    @John P

    I didn’t realize there was so much Almquist love. Comparing him to Erik Karlsson in stature but forgetting about the fact EK is maybe among the top five skaters in the NHL doesn’t help the arguement.

    Bouillion is a 200 pound guy defense-first guy, Hillen is 190-195 pound NHL journeyman that was a back up in Long Island, Nashville & now Washinngton. He got in two playoff games total last year. believe

    Now Almquist I plays a game similar to Ryan Ellis, who was picked 10th or 11th overall in 2009. Not to knock Almquist because his AHL numbers are very good, but Ellis was a stud in Junior hockey with off-the-chart skills.

    He’s won Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year (2011), Canadian Major Junior Defenseman of the Year (2011), OHL -Most Oustanding Player 2011 and OHL Most Oustanding Defenseman (2009 and 2011). He was on the 2009 & 2011 First All-Star Team, 2010 Second All-Star Team, the 2009 Memorial Cup All-Star Team, the 2008 Canadian Major Junior -All-Rookie Team and he was dominant the the World Junior Championships (7 points 6 games) and World Under 18′s (7 points 7 games).

    So how has Ellis done in the NHL? He spent half the year last year in the AHL. He got into 3 of 10 playoffs games (no points). This year he has 6 points in 29 games and is -1. Not the greatest out put but then again he is only 22.

    All I am saying is that its tough for small defensemen. Even the best ones struggle. Like all Wing fans I hope Almquist is the exception to the rule. But I think we need to be realistic and prepared to wait a while.

  3. ScottD says:

    You guys think Almquist is small just wait until Marshall comes up. He is 5’9?

  4. ryan says:

    Daryl – Calle Jarnkrok is set to play in the World Championships which I think run through the middle of May. Not sure he would fly over to play in the AHL afterwards. Might just get to work on offseason conditioning before heading over for the various camps in DET/TC.

  5. YVR says:

    Marshall may be only 5-9 but he still can dunk…ah sh!t, this March Madness plays havoc with the mind.



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