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Almquist makes most of chances

Rookie defenseman doesn't take time with Wings for granted

Tuesday, 09.24.2013 / 4:28 PM ET / News
By Bill Roose  - Managing Editor | DetroitRedWings.com
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Almquist makes most of chances
Rookie defenseman Adam Almquist doesn't shy away from the physical aspects of the game, but he will benefit from gaining size and strength. (Photo by Dave Reginek)

DETROIT Adam Almquist has the necessary skills to turn a game around quickly, which he showcased in the Red Wings’ preseason opening win, potting two power-play goals on slap shots from the point.

The rookie defenseman, who was Detroit’s seventh-round draft, the second-from-last amateur player chosen in 2009, has definitely continued to receive rave reviews since training camp began this month.

“You come to this camp and I see his name up in this dressing room. I sure never planned on that,” coach Mike Babcock said. “That’s the great thing about life is you actually get to make an impression and you get to choose each and every day and he’s done that. He’s come to camp and he’s got his name up in the dressing room.”

Almquist isn’t sure how long his name will remain above a locker stall at Joe Louis Arena, however, while the rest of his minor-league teammates were sent to Grand Rapids this week, it’s a good sign that the Swedish defenseman was back practicing with the big club on Tuesday.

“You just take it day by day and work hard and see what happens,” said Almquist, who, barring an injury to any of the Wings’ regular blue-liners, will be re-assigned to the Griffins by Monday, the deadline for NHL teams to submit their 23-man rosters.

There are 29 players still in camp with the Wings, including eight defensemen, which makes conducting drills easier with an even number of bodies. The same thing happened in the Wings’ abbreviated training camp last January when they called up Brian Lashoff as the eighth defenseman.

Early-season injuries necessitated Lashoff’s return to the Wings’ lineup in the first week of the 2013 season. He played well enough to earn more ice time and eventually played 31 games with the Wings.

Whether that same acceleration to the NHL can occur to Almquist, time will tell.

“We haven’t talked too much about it, but he’s a guy that came up last year and knows what’s going on,” Almquist said, referring to Lashoff. “He’s a guy I can go to and ask for advice and how to act in the NHL. He’s a nice guy to give me some help.

“It would be really fun to start here, but I don’t know what’s going to happen. Just take it day by day.”

Although on the small side, Almquist (5-foot-11, 174-pounds) does intrigue the Wings’ coaching staff. While he must fill out and add strength, those attributes will come with time. What the Wings like in Almquist is that he’s a fundamental sound puck-moving defenseman who makes good decisions in the defensive end of the ice.

“He’s talented. He moves the puck. He’s an undersized guy, but his skill set and hockey sense are so good that he might be able to play,” Babcock said. “He’s got to have a huge winter and a great summer next summer and see what happens. It looks to me his mind and athleticism are NHL (ready), but his body is small.”

Almquist, 22, has had success at every level, having played on championship teams with HV71 in the Swedish Elite League and last spring with the Griffins in the AHL. He also led the SEL with a plus-20 rating during the 2010-11 season.

But Almquist isn’t taking anything for granted this week.

“I was just going in and try to do the best I can and play as good as possible,” he said. “I think I’ve played alright so far. This is a nice bonus to still be here with these guys.”

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 77 17 49 -6 66
P. Datsyuk 63 26 39 12 65
T. Tatar 82 29 27 6 56
G. Nyquist 82 27 27 -11 54
J. Abdelkader 71 23 21 3 44
N. Kronwall 80 9 35 -4 44
R. Sheahan 79 13 23 -3 36
D. Helm 75 15 18 7 33
D. DeKeyser 80 2 29 11 31
S. Weiss 52 9 16 -2 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
J. Howard 23 13 11 .910 2.44
P. Mrazek 16 9 2 .918 2.38

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