Red Wings sign prospects Almqvist and Nestrasil to entry level deals

By Mike Suggs

It was announced earlier this week that the Detroit Red Wings have signed two of their 2009 draft picks, defenseman Adam Almqvist and forward Andrej Nestrasil, to three year entry level contracts.

Nestrasil has committed to playing for Detroit’s AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins for next season, while Almqvist is still deciding on whether to stay in Sweden for one more year.

Almqvist, 20, was the last pick in the 2009 draft (210th overall), and has spent the last two seasons playing with HV-71 in the Swedish Elite League.  He has scored 2 goals and 22 assists for a total of 24 points over the course of 80 games thus far.  He has also scored 11 points over the course of 18 playoff games.

Though his regular season numbers don’t yet indicate it, Almqvist is an offensive defenseman with superb hockey sense.  Red Wings European scout Hakan Andersson has said it is “the best I’ve seen in years”.  With his track record, I’m inclined to believe him.

He’s got a good shot, makes great breakout passes, and is smart in the offensive zone, but is lacking in the size department.  Standing at about 5-11, he weighs in at just 174 lbs.

If he does decide to make the jump to North America for next season, he will get plenty of time in the gym to bulk up his frame.  It will be necessary for him to do so if he wants to make an impact at the AHL level.

Almqvist was a 7th round draft pick, so nobody really knew how well he would develop, but it’s safe to say that not many people, if any thought he could make the jump to Grand Rapids this early.

If Almqvist can build up his strength, and ramp up his defense to match his offense, the Wings could have a good top 4 offensive defenseman, capable of running a powerplay.

Nestrasil, 20, was the 75th overall pick in 2009, and as was stated earlier, has committed to playing for Grand Rapids in the AHL next season.  Nestrasil finished off this year with 19 goals and 51 assists for 70 points in 58 games, while playing for the P.E.I. Rocket in the QMJHL.

Nestrasil is a playmaking winger, who already has good size, standing 6-3 and weighing in at around 205 lbs.  He will continue to work to add maybe 10-20 pounds, but he already possesses the frame to become a power forward at the pro level.

He will still need to adjust to the more physical North American style of play, but his stature should ease his learning curve to some extent.

If he can do this, and learn the two-way game Detroit demands out of its forwards, Nestrasil could be a solid top 6 forward at the NHL level.  The Wings had until June 1st to sign these two picks, otherwise they would have relinquished their rights.

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