The fifth edition of my Red Wings prospect profile series examines another defenseman looking to make his mark in Detroit in the near future: Adam Almquist.
Defenseman – Sweden – Age 23
5-foot-11, ~175 pounds – Shoots Left-handed
Drafted 210th Overall in 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Strengths / Weaknesses
+ Offensive Decisions, Passing Ability, Hockey Sense
– Size, Strength, Skating
Strangely enough for a defenseman, Adam Almquist finds a way to make his direct impact on the offensive end of the ice. He is great passer of the puck and isn’t afraid to crash the net to get his opportunities. Just take a look at his first NHL goal…
Almquist heads straight to net from the blue line for a simple wrist that flies past Kari Lehtonen. While it’s a good reaction play by Almquist this type of aggressive attacking on the offensive end leaves the counterattack wide open. Of course the forwards are supposed to back track filling Almquist’s spot when he leaves the blue line, but all it takes is a small communication breakdown and it’s an odd-man rush going the other way.
With his offensive prowess Almquist has also found himself being a key component on the Grand Rapids Griffins power play over the past two seasons. In reality with his skillset it’s the best role for him to fulfill. Not trying to say he is terrible in the defensive zone, but at the very least I would call that part of his game a work in progress.
He is just too small and not disciplined enough to deal with bigger, faster forwards. But, I have to hand it to Almquist for not stepping down from challenges. He likes to hit and throw his body around whenever he gets the chance.
- Alex Goligoski (Dallas Stars)
- Brian Campbell (Florida Panthers)
- Brendan Smith (Detroit Red Wings)
Comparison wise Adam Almquist reminds me of a smaller version of Brendan Smith. Both attack the offensive end with reckless abandonment and worry about playing defense afterwards. Smith got better at tracking back as the season went along, but he still struggles at picking his spots when he should push up. Almquist on the other hand usually picks his spots wisely, but isn’t capable of constantly winning battles against NHL forwards whereas Smith can.
If Almquist bulks up I like his chances to make it in the NHL. Perhaps not with the Wings because the organization already has way too many offensive defensemen but who knows.
RedWingsCentral.com: #9 rated Red Wings’ prospect
Hockey’sFuture.com: Potential #4-5 defenseman
As harsh as those evaluations might be, I have to agree with them. Almquist is rated as the 5th best defensive prospect in the system because he struggles to matchup on defense. While having bad technique can be fixed over time, size can’t be taught.
Right now he could easily anchor a second unit power play in the NHL. Beyond that he would be a burden. I’ve said it over and over again, but if he gets stronger then watch out. While his offensive skills are keeping him on the prospect radar for now it’s getting him developed on defense that will get him playing time in Detroit.
Question marks are abundant about where Almquist is going to end up next season. He is currently a restricted free agent and is pondering his options. Currently he has expressed interested in returning to Sweden to play for his former club HV-71. The Red Wings have the option to place a qualifying offer on him to keep his NHL rights, but Almquist holds the power to reject the offer so he can play in Europe.
Reports say Almquist could possibly make over double what he made in Grand Rapids this season if he decides to go back home.
With all the young defenseman the Wings have I wouldn’t be surprised if they let Almquist go, but at the same time it’s hard to give up on a prospect that could be on the cusp of making it to the next level. If the Red Wings and Almquist do come to terms then he would have to pass through waivers to return to Grand Rapids.
Other Red Wings’ Prospect Profiles
Let me know in the comments below which prospect you would like to see profiled next.
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