We’ve got football finding its rhythm and playoff baseball approaching, but I want to take a timeout for what is turning into a yearly tradition: building the Adam Almquist bandwagon.
Last year I talked about Almquist as the Shea Weber Super Market Sweep came to it’s underwhelming conclusion. Prospect guru Corey Pronman told me he was the next guy in line to get the call up. Prospect guru Corey Pronman was wrong. Brian Lashoff was the Red Wings’ man.
But it still turned out swimmingly for me. I discovered more than a prospect. I discovered a classic Hustler.
I won’t recap too much, but Almquist is small (5-foot-11, 174 pounds), a 7th-round pick, and no one really knows how to spell his name. In 2011 he was Adam Almqvist, with a ‘v’ after the ‘q’. In 2013 he’s Adam Almquist, with a ‘u’ after the ‘q’.
As the Red Wings find themselves in a similar position as last year, in need of another defenseman, even with the addition of Danny DeKeyser, this might be your last chance to hop on the wagon before we hit the trail and wade the river (hopefully without losing any oxen or family members). Or maybe not.
See, things have changed in a year. Almquist (Almqvist?) played all of last year in the AHL. In 68 games he had 10 goals, 21 assists and went +13 as the Grand Rapids Griffins won their first Calder Cup. He scored hat tricks that won the game in overtime. He grew a dirty mustache and talked in English to a spastic, creepy dude WHO WAS CHEWING GUM WHILE CONDUCTING AN INTERVIEW. (Come on dude, have some respect for yourself, your profession, and most of all, the mustache.) In the first preseason game he showed he can be a contributor on the power play, scoring two power play goals with shot that isn’t the hardest, but is accurate. (He was a scratch in the second game and didn’t record a point in the third.)
He’s a slippery offensive defenseman, something the Red Wings haven’t had since Brian Rafalski retired two years ago. But he’s still got to get bigger — even 5-foot-10 Rafalski was 191 pounds. He’s still got to show he can make the first pass on the breakout consistently. He’s still got to got to prove he can play in his own zone against NHL competition and make a consistent first pass on the breakout.
The problem is, it doesn’t look like he’s going to get the chance. The Red Wings are $2 million over the cap already and have seven defensemen already with NHL contracts, the last being Lashoff, who they signed to a three-year deal just last year.
Combine that with the Red Wings’ tendency to let their prospects marinate longer than a whole pig in a smoker and we may be looking at another Adam Almquist bandwagon article next year.
But he already proved his game translated to North America well during his time in the AHL next year. After he proves last year wasn’t an aberration, there won’t be much left for him to prove outside of the NHL. If the annual run of devastating injuries occurs, the Red Wings could give him a shot.
Play it safe. Jump on now. We can all ride
on the Oregon trial to the NHL together.