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The Malik Report

Red Wings mid-day news: Almqvist in the fold and the Mule’s theme song

Updated 2x at 1:22 PM—don’t expect to see Almqvist in Grand Rapids this year: Something tells me that Capgeek.com has sources at the NHL’s central registry, because this morning, their Twitter account broke the news that the Red Wings had signed HV71 defenseman Adam Almqvist to a 3-year entry-level contract with a total of $200,000 in signing bonuses, and at 12:30 PM EDT, the Red Wings beat the Swedish press to the punch via a press release confirming the signing, as also reported by The Production Line:

RED WINGS SIGN 2009 DRAFT PICK ADAM ALMQVIST TO ENTRY-LEVEL CONTRACT

…  Defenseman Has Played with the No. 1 Team in the Swedish Elite League for the Past Two Seasons …

Detroit, MI… The Detroit Red Wings today announced that defenseman Adam Almqvist has been signed to a three-year entry-level contact. As per club policy, no further details regarding this deal will be disclosed.

A native of Jönköping , Sweden , Almqvist was originally selected by Detroit in the seventh round (210th overall) of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The 20-year-old blue-liner has spent the past two seasons in the Swedish Elite League where he has recorded 24 points (2G-22A) in addition to a +31 rating and 42 penalty minutes in 80 games played for HV71, a talent-laden club that has won back-to-back regular season championships.

Almqvist led all junior-aged SEL players in scoring during the 2010 Le Mat Playoffs, contributing 11 points (1G-10A) in 16 appearances during HV71’s successful run to a league title. He also finished the 2010-11 campaign with the best plus/minus mark (+20) in his league. The 5’11”, 174-lb. rearguard has represented his country at several international competitions, including the 2008 U-18 Junior World Cup at which Sweden captured a Bronze Medal.

The Swedish press has yet to talk to Almqvist about the signing, so this is probably news to them, too.

Also: As usual, the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau offers an answer to a mailbag question which contradicts the news reported by the Red Wings, Predators and Blue Jackets’ beat writers….

Adam, first off, thanks for a great column. I was wondering how you think Atlanta’s relocation will affect the other teams in terms of their division? Assuming Winnipeg is a Western Conference team, I assume that Detroit would be the team to move into the East. But there are people who say it would be Columbus. Who do you think moves? And what becomes of the other divisions in the NHL?
Geoff Mellor, Oshawa Ont.

Geoff,

Scuttlebutt currently has it that there will be no reshuffling of the NHL’s divisions in time for the 2011-12 season and that Winnipeg therefore will have to play the year in the Southeast Division.

Beyond that, I don’t know that there’s any clear route the NHL will go in terms of re-jigging divisions. Some believe the Red Wings have the inside track to move east and that’s my view as well. I think the Wings history within the league, as well as their status as one of the more successful franchises, gives them the right of first refusal.

But as I recently wrote, I also think the league would be well advised to scrap divisions altogether (while continuing to set up the schedule so that teams would continue to play traditional divisional rivals as often as they do now). Most people I talk to look only to see if their favorite team is in a playoff position, not where they are in relation to one of four other rivals.

As we now know, that’s simply not the case—the Detroit News’s John Niyo most recently confirmed that the NHL has no pecking order regarding the Red Wings’ precedence over the Blue Jackets or Predators, and based on Predators GM David Poile’s comments and Blue Jackets president Mike Priest’s comments, when the NHL’s Board of Governors eventually votes on the subject of relocating a team to the Eastern Conference, they’ll get the hardest push from Columbus…

And it’s highly unlikely that the Western Conference’s members of the Board will agree to allow the Wings move East given the Wings’ ability to guarantee sell-outs.

• And finally, for now, via Red Wings social media coordinator Jake Duhaime, here’s the Wings’ pick as the 3rd-best game of the 2010-2011 season:

February 2, 2011
Red Wings 7, Senators 5

The Franzen Five? Mule Trick? Pick your favorite saying!

Johan Franzen became the first NHL player to score five goals in a game since Marian Gaborik in 2007. He also became the first Red Wing to accomplish the feat since Sergei Fedorov scored all five goals in a 1996 OT victory over the Washington Capitals.

Like Fedorov, Franzen’s tallies didn’t come in a blowout, but a hard-fought 7-5 victory in Ottawa after the All-Star break. Kris Draper and Nicklas Kronwall also scored for the Red Wings.

Franzen has a theme song. He just doesn’t know it yet. It’s the Queens of the Stone Age’s “Give the Mule What He Wants”:

Lyrics courtesy of The Fade:

The Mule want it,
The Mule want it Sunday.
He’ll eat it,
He’ll eat it one day.
How long
Do I wait?
Be the Mule that you gotta be

Underwater, underwater one day.
Gonna sink it,
Make em think it’s too late.
For your love,
For your love,
Be the Mule that you gotta be

Update: For the record, for all the wonders of the interweb and Twitter and all of that, I highly recommend that you bookmark Capgeek’s Red Wings team page and give it a gander once a day. In the middle of the summer, new names pop up and new contracts pop up way before the Red Wings acknowledge re-signings or signings, especially in terms of prospects and minor-leaguers.

Update #2: The Grand Rapids Press’s Michael Zuidema believes that Almqvist will play for Grand Rapids this fall, but that’s simply not the case. Almqvist told Jnytt.se’s Daniel Hultqvist that he’s going to remain with HV71 for at least one more season, and given his still rake-thin frame, I don’t see the Wings rushing to bring him over.

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Comments

RWBill's avatar

Among all the “how to replace Rafalski’s numbers” comments, my answer is this, Don’t even try, that’s the wrong direction.”

Let’s not chase offense.  The Wings recurring characteristic was falling behind early and too many goals against.

Gladly score 30 goals less if we give up 60 goals less.  Secure the best defensive option, period, at the blue line.  Winning then takes care of itself.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/27/11 at 02:59 PM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

Geez, George, a guy needs roller skates on to keep up with all of your new posts. smile

So, since this is the new Almqvist post, I’ll just add this here…

————————————————————————————————-

Interesting timing on this considering what Red Wings Central’s “projection” for Almqvist is…

  If Almqvist continues to mature physically, the Red Wings could suddenly have a talented power-play quarterback with a similar skillset — in both strengths and weaknesses — to Brian Rafalski. If he doesn’t, he’ll spend his career in Sweden. Almqvist has done a good job rounding out his game in the Swedish Elite League and will likely spend the 2011-12 campaign overseas before the Red Wings bring him to North America to develop his game in the American Hockey League.

And here’s what Hakan Andersson has to say about the 5’-11”, 174-pounder…

  “If it all came down to hockey sense, he probably would have been a first-round pick. The hockey sense is something else. It’s as good as I’ve seen in many years … On the offensive blue line he can really control the power play. He’s calm with the puck and he has a very good first pass out of his zone. When forwards find open ice, the puck is on the tape.” — Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson (June 2009) … “It’s all about strength for him. He’s so weak. He gets pushed off the puck, and around the net, he has a tough time.” — Andersson (December 2009).

He obviously needs to pack on a substantial amount of muscle weight but he’s only 20 years old, so it could happen.

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 05/27/11 at 03:34 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

He obviously needs to pack on a substantial amount of muscle weight but he’s only 20 years old, so it could happen.
Posted by OlderThanChelios on 05/27/11 at 02:34 PM ET

If he is being man handled in the SEL, he’s going to be a rag doll in the NHL for a few years.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 05/27/11 at 03:42 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

That should be a concern.  The Wings often could not break the other teams’ cycle, compounded by own zone turnovers.  The result: one of the worst GAA in the league.

Rafalski lead the defense in turnovers, now lacking the high mobility and escapability he once had.

I’ll say again, establish a defense like 2008 and winning will take care of itself.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with Super Creepy Rob Lowe. on 05/27/11 at 03:52 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I love the top ten plays these guys have been showing, but those youtube videos are leave me quite lacking. This time they cut it off after Franzen’s fourth goal. In other games (like the Datsyuk-Perry fight, they didn’t even show the bloody fight). NHL, again, you fail.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 05/27/11 at 03:52 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Zetterberg was a scrawny 165 forward when he was first drafted.
Once this kid comes over here and learns how to lift and train, he’ll be fine.

Posted by Hank1974 on 05/27/11 at 04:54 PM ET

Chris in A^2's avatar

There was talk around the time of the WJC that Almqvist had bulked up to 180.  Like most kids he’s still probably not in the same kind of condition that a professional athlete should be in, but I doubt he’s as weak as he was at the time of the draft.

The wings have signed 5 of their 7 draft picks from the 2010 draft. Jensen is still in college and they’ve got until the 1st to sign Nestrasil.

Posted by Chris in A^2 from Nyquist Puck Control on 05/27/11 at 05:13 PM ET

monkey's avatar

I’ll say again, establish a defense like 2008 and the parade will take care of itself.

Posted by monkey from Praha, Česká republika on 05/27/11 at 09:47 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Wings aren’t going to bring Almqvist over. He’s going to remain with HV for the next season.

As for the “work on defense” theory, I’m sure that the Wings want to cut down their GAA, but they don’t plan on simply leaving Rafalski’s hole empty and changing their style of play. Babcock and the Wings still believe that the best way to play defense involves getting the puck out of your zone in a hurry and working to grind it out down low in the offensive zone instead—both Babcock and Holland have reiterated that the less time you spend in your own zone and the more time you spend in the offensive zone, the more you get to grind on other teams’ defenses instead of them doing the same to you—so the Wings will find a puck-mover, guaranteed, via a free agent signing or trade.

They might not spend $6 million on a guy, but they’re going to get one.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/27/11 at 09:48 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.