“Size matters not”…Yoda
If Master Yoda were a sophomore AHL defenseman, he would be Adam Almquist.
Even Almquist’s ears, while not freakishly enormous or green, have a Yoda-ish appearance. Detroit has long believed that the size of a player’s brain, not his torso, is what makes him valuable. Almquist piled on the evidence for this Yodaian theory monday night with a two-goal performance against Pittsburgh.
Behold the Bombquist…
These blasts are the on-ice equivalent of a tiny Jedi Master lifting an X-Wing from a foul Dagobian swamp (I reject the validity of everything portrayed in the Star Wars prequels.)
Of course, two goals in a preseason game is nothing to get ecstatic over, but consider what Hakan Andersson, super-scout for Detroit, had to say about Almquist during his draft year:
“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.”
This is astonishing praise for Andersson to heap upon a non-NHL player.
Andersson has the privilege of witnessing the finest talent in Europe, and possesses the clairvoyance necessary to determine which hockey Padawans will become knights, which will become masters, and which will become nothing.
After taking a look at Almquist’s amateur achievements at Red Wings Central, the goals embedded above should excite readers even more. Experts have compared Almquist to Erik Karlsson, Brain Rafalski and Tobias Enstrom.
The similarities can be seen here….
Truly great players get compared to no one. Lemieux played like Lemieux and no one else. Ditto for Joe Sakic, Pavel Bure, Steve Yzerman and so on.
But Erik Karlsson is a Norris Trophy winner, Brian Rafalski was a major contributor on two Stanley Cup winning teams and Tobias Enstrom is one of the most underrated defenseman in the NHL. So while Almquist is galaxies far, far away from being truly great, being compared to these players is a still a fine achievement for a 170 pound AHL blue liner.
As things stand today, the Red Wings do not have a defenseman that regularly hits the back of the net with blue line bombs, a la Nicklas Lidstrom.
Brendan Smith, as George Malik from “The Malik Report” phrased it, must decide if he is a forward or a defenseman, and decide this season.
Niklas Kronwall joins the rush with fantastic timing, but gets robbed more than he gets on the scoresheet.
Jonathan Ericsson shoots the puck at well over 100 mph, but does not get it off enough.
Jakub Kindl seems to be turning into the threat Detroit hoped he would when they drafted him in 2005, but the Czech native must prove that last season is not as good as it gets.
Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet have had impressive junior careers, but are yet to prove themselves at the professional level.
Teams score many of their power play goals with heavy and accurate shots from the point, and it is Almquist who will score goals of this kind, over and over again, for Detroit in the future (not “a long time ago”).
Not only is it tiresome to hear people drone on about players being too small, it is a sign of ignorance. Too many fine players were told at one point or another to give up on their dreams because they were not physically imposing enough. Fitness routines can make players bigger, and these routines can be taught. The kind of profound on-ice intelligence that animates young Almquist, cannot.
In general, preseason games mean shit. The filth in Yoda’s swamp provides a more accurate prediction of what will happen during a given season. But on an individual basis, the preseason can give us an idea of a player’s potential. So in this sense, the preseason has some value.
“Star Wars” follows the formula of myths from the ancient world.
While the stories themselves are not literally true, the wisdom contained within the stories is: anger can drive us from our loved ones. A small but determined rebel force can defeat a larger, more arrogant empire, and, of course, “size matters not.”
Almquist may or may not be a Yoda fan, but he has proven the 900-year-old master’s wisdom is sound.
Follow Ian on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ianflemingdunha
I began my career in hockey as a pre-scout for Cranbrook Kingswood Academy in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. I have been writing about the NHL for multiple platforms since the 2007-2008 season.