So Shea Weber signed a 14 year, $110 Million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers. So Nashville has an opportunity to match. So either way Ken Holland missed out another big-time Red Wings target.
You can debate about why and cry your little eyes out, but it’s July 23. There’s only two and a half months until the season starts. That’s not much time to make hypothetical decisions about the Red Wings roster. While you mourn the loss of another free agent that 20 teams were eventually going to throw the house at when they had the opportunity, I’m looking at the alternative option. His name is Adam Almqvist.
Brendan Smith will get his minutes next year, but if the Internet is right, and they always are, the Red Wings need more help on the blueline than just him. With no new face on the horizon, we have to look internally. The next NHL-ready defense prospect Detroit has according to prospect guru Corey Pronman, is Almqvist, the Swedish defenseman who was the last choice in the 2009 Draft.
You didn’t think I was going to pass up a chance to write about a seventh-round draft pick, did you?
I’m not going to compare Almqvist to another Detroit Red Wings defenseman who was the last pick in the draft, mainly because the comparison isn’t a good one (different types of players and one didn’t spend his youth career as a forward). And I’m not going to compare him to another Swedish-born defenseman who was overlooked because he didn’t have the size or physicality. But I’m am going to say there’s some precedent for him being more than a run-of-the-mill seventh-round draft pick.
Picture a 14-year-old southern kid with chestnut hair who is just starting to grow his first facial hair: 5-foot-10, 174 pounds. Surprise! It’s Almqvist. Yes, your future defenseman is 42 pounds lighter than Rick Nash. This occasionally creates problems. To be fair to Almqvist, he’s actually 21 (not 14) and Swedish (not southern), which kind of changes everything.
A puck-moving defenseman, Almqvist didn’t get to show it much last year, stuck behind two higher-pair defensemen on his Swedish pro team. He played 42 games with HV 71**, recording 11 points before signing with the Griffins and playing three games, not finding the score sheet.
The critics would say this indicates he hasn’t put his entire game together yet. I say the Red Wings are just thrusting him into the spotlight at the right time, not wasting any of his production in the minors.
He probably needs to put on 30 pounds, adjust to the speed of the NHL and the smaller size of the rink, but screw it. Put him in the lineup tomorrow. And use a Sharpie.
It’s like reverse psychology. If you can’t get Shea Weber and his glorious playoff beard, go the other way. Throw in a skinny, fast guy who can’t grow hair on his armpits, let alone his face.
I’ve talked myself into Adam Almqvist for next year. If you want to stop weeping and are smart enough to see what’s coming, I suggest you do the same.
It’s amazing what a little desperation can do.
*(Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet are probably better prospects, but neither is ready for the NHL yet.)
**(Possibly the worst name for a team ever. Can we please get a Swedish hockey fan in here to tell me what it means?)