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Red Wings prospect Adam Almquist will play in the KHL this season

Update: Severstal is confirming, says it's a 2 year contract, but KHL contracts can generally be opted-out-of after 1 year by the club or player.

Here I was, writing the overnight report (I tend to check the Russian stuff toward the end these days), and RedWingsFeed revealed that restricted free agent defenseman Adam Almquist is in very, very likely to be spending this upcoming season in the KHL--which is a good thing for him and a good thing for the Red Wings:

Roughly translated:

Swedish hockey players Adam Almquist and David Ullstrom will spend the next season with Severstal Cherepovets, reports R-Sport, citing a source familiar with the situation.

Last season, Ullstrom, a 25-year-old forward, began with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and moved on to Lev Praha, which reached the Gargarin Cup final. In the regular season he played 55 games and registered 20 points; 12 goals and 8 assists.

On June 16th, Cherepovets traded with CSKA Moscow to secure Almquist's rights, giving CSKA a third-round KHL draft pick in 2016.

Last season, the 23-year-old defenseman made his NHL debut for Detroit, playing in two games. He spent most of the season with their farm team in the AHL, playing 74 games and registereing 53 points (4 goals and 49 assists) with a plus-minus rating of +9.

Severstal's website has yet to confirm, but R-Sport's generally the first to breaking news.

This is GOOD, not bad. The Red Wings were concerned with Almquist's ability to deal with the bump-and-grind of NHL play given the fact that he's 5'10" and maybe 175 pounds, but the Wings didn't want to lose his rights by waiving him.

Almquist was pissed off about the fact that he wasn't in the Wings' plans per se, and had threatened to play for his Swedish team, HV71, before Severstal traded for his rights.

If Almquist plays the upcoming season in the KHL, he'll earn a ton of money (as well as the use of an apartment and a rented car for free) and will play in a clutch-and-grab-and-trap-happy league, and hopefully he can prove that he can deal with physical play while remaining Red Wings property.

Update: MLive's Ansar Khan weighs in:

Almquist is a restricted free agent. The Red Wings were anticipating his departure for Europe after he indicated following his second season with the Grand Rapids Griffins that he no longer wanted to play in the AHL.

Almquist had little chance of cracking the Red Wings lineup in 2014-15 and his future with the organization was murky since the team is higher on several other young defensemen (Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, Ryan Sproul, Mattias Backman and Nick Jensen).

Almquist, 23, had a strong season with the Griffins, picking up 73 points (including 49 assists) in 53 games before an injury on a hit from behind limited him to one playoff game.

He appeared in two games with the Red Wings (one goal, averaging 17:13 in ice time).

He's a good skater and puck-mover, but his size (5-11, 178) raises concerns about his ability to play in the NHL. He was the Red Wings' final pick in the 2009 entry draft (210th overall in the seventh round).

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Comments

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Honestly, I doubt we’re missing much. But I don’t understand how we didn’t give this guy a better look during a rebuilding season when we played Brian Lashoff 75 times.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/25/14 at 02:03 AM ET

MoreShoot's avatar

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/25/14 at 03:03 AM ET

totally agree. He at least deserved a look.

Posted by MoreShoot on 06/25/14 at 05:48 AM ET

Hootinani's avatar

Having Lashoff/Kindl on this years team with Almqvist stuck in Russia is going to be a real head scratcher.

Posted by Hootinani on 06/25/14 at 07:49 AM ET

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Ansar, you got your numbers backwards. 73 points (including 49 assists - I’d be bragging about the 24 goals, not the 49 assists!) in 53 games?

Posted by VitoLambruski on 06/25/14 at 08:17 AM ET

MurrayChadwick's avatar

Great news for the Wings and Almquist, though I’m sure there will be some airchair GM tears flowing over the news.

Whenever anyone in this organization talks about future NHL ready defenseman, his name never comes up, or comes up way down the list, whereas a small segment of fans, make him out to be the next Rafalski and not having him on the 2014 roster being dumbest move the Wings have ever made. 

Personally, I tend to trust the people watch these guys day in day out, watch them play practice, adapt to schemes, execute game plans, play against competition, all the while, they are doing the same with their peers both in the organization and out of it.  I’m sure us fans who catch a griffins game every so often on a $2 beer and hotdog night, a few box scores, and watch a highlight reel might be impressed,  but the Wings are pretty much considered best in class by the entire league for drafting and developing home grown talent, I’ll trust that they know whether they’re letting a perennial all-star slip through the cracks here. You can fault the wings for a lot of things of late, especially trades and/or lack of free agent signings, spending 1-2 years too long in the AHL, but giving up on players who go on elsewhere to succeed is not on the list.

And oh by the way, we’re not losing him. He’s going to the KHL, where he can make his mistakes and growing pains over there, and either proves he can play with men and comes back over here next season, or he’s a Euro league lifer. 

Posted by MurrayChadwick on 06/25/14 at 08:19 AM ET

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Honestly, I doubt we’re missing much. But I don’t understand how we didn’t give this guy a better look during a rebuilding season when we played Brian Lashoff 75 times.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/25/14 at 03:03 AM ET

Because he is 174lbs. And honestly I hate using something as simple as player’s weight, but he is just way too small for a D-man.

Posted by George0211 on 06/25/14 at 08:45 AM ET

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Great news for the Wings and Almquist, though I’m sure there will be some airchair GM tears flowing over the news.

Completely agree, MurrayChadwick. 

It’s like people thought it was ever remotely realistic that we’d integrate Almquist and Marchenko and Ouellet and Sproul and Backman, all in the span of just a couple years.  Of course they won’t all make it.  And even if they could all make it, it would be prudent to trade some of them.  We’re not the Edmonton Oilers. 

As for Almquist in particular, it seems that Blashill and Babcock determined that he was behind Ouellet and Marchenko in terms of readiness.  The choices were sign him anyway—exactly the kind of “letting contracts, not play on the ice” thinking we ordinarily decry here—try to trade him for a very low draft pick, or do this—let him play in the KHL for a bit.  This was a great move.

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/25/14 at 08:45 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Because he is 174lbs. And honestly I hate using something as simple as player’s weight, but he is just way too small for a D-man.

Posted by George0211 on 06/25/14 at 09:45 AM ET

This is something I agree with, but I also don’t see why Lashoff got into 75 games when the Wings have this glut of defensive prospects who could have benefited from splitting those games among themselves.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/14 at 09:04 AM ET

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Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/14 at 10:04 AM ET

I think it has to do with roles.  Lashoff was a third-pairing guy who played on the PK and was used in defensive situations.  Almqvist, Ouellet, and Sproul are all offense-first guys. 

Marchenko, I dunno if it was a lack of confidence in him or what.  By the time the playoffs rolled around of course he was hurt.

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/25/14 at 09:13 AM ET

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And Lashoff sucked in those roles.

Posted by Captain Bob on 06/25/14 at 02:21 PM ET

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And Lashoff sucked in those roles.

I don’t think the stats bear that out.  That PK alone.

Detroit’s PK was ranked 12th in the NHL at 83.1% effectiveness, e.g., above average.  Lashoff was on the ice for about 40% of our PK time on the season (yes.)  To conclude that he “sucked” we’d need to show that Detroit’s PK was above-average without him on the ice and below average with him on the ice.  40% of the 50 SH goals against we allowed this year is 20.  An average player on our PK would have been on ice for 20 goals against in 40% of the SH icetime.

Lashoff was on ice for 19 goals against SH. 

That means he was basically an average member of a slightly-above-average penalty kill.

Or, put another way, Lashoff’s goals against per 60 while down a man was 6.34—a lower rate than Kindl, Smith, or DeKeyser.  If you want to extrapolate that a bunch of untried prospects would’ve been more effective penalty killers than Danny DeKeyser, you’re welcome to do so—but I don’t play Babcock for not doing it.

It’s also a better rate than those posted by Victor Hedman, Travis Hamonic, Johnny Oduya, or Andrew MacDonald.  It’s actually—among defensemen who averaged at least 1 minute of PK time per game, and who appeared in at least 40 games—the 75th best in the NHL, just behind Hjalmarsson—or, if you look at it the other way, the 69th worst in that sample. 

In conclusion—no, he did not suck as a PKer.  He was average.

Posted by captaineclectic on 06/25/14 at 02:58 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t believe it’s in the teams’ best interest to employ 75 games’ worth of “average PKer who provides zero offense”

If a guy is going to provide absolutely no offensive spark from the back end, he’d better be a hell of a defender.  I’d simply rather risk that a more offensively-talented player can bring more goals than he causes in comparison to a guy who might be better at PKing.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/14 at 04:18 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.