The Red Wings have one new addition to their European prospects pool, Adam Almqvist. Seven players played overseas during the 2009-10 season, six in the SEL and one in the KHL.
Dick Axelsson, LW – Grand Rapids Griffins/Farjestads BK Karlstad
Acquired: 2nd round, 62nd overall, 2006
6’2, 176 lbs.
Axelsson started the 2009-10 season as a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins, making his long-awaited North American debut. He struggled a bit early on, as he was only able to put up five points through 17 games. He cited that he was uncomfortable playing in North America, and against the wishes of the Red Wings management, he left for Sweden.
Upon his return to Sweden, Axelsson was able to find his offensive flair once again. Playing in 15 games for Farjestads he put up six goals and four assists for 10 points. In addition, he currently has two points in four playoff games. Following in the footsteps of fellow prospect Ryno, who also returned to Sweden, Axelsson will have to return to North American ice if he wants to become a member of the Red Wings. It is highly unlikely that the team would allow him to make the squad right out of camp, so some AHL play is a barrier he must cross.
Joakim Andersson, C – Vastra Frolunda HC Goteborg
Acquired: 3rd round, 88th overall, 2007
6’2, 198 lbs.
Perhaps Detroit’s most consistent prospect overseas has been Andersson. His international play for the Swedish U-20 team has been very impressive, finishing his junior career with 15 points in 15 games. Combined with his defensive, aggressive style, Andersson projects as a very good all-around player.
In 55 games with the Frolunda Indians, Andersson put up 18 points, while maintaining all of his defensive strengths and leadership skills as well. He also has three points through four post-season games with the team. Next year will likely mark Andersson’s crossover to North American hockey, where he will join the Griffins.
Jesper Samuelsson, C – Timra IK/Sundsvall
Acquired: 7th round, 211th overall, 2008
5’11, 178 lbs.
Samuelsson spent yet another year bouncing between Timra IK and the third tier Swedish club Sundsvall. While he was able to amass 16 points over 36 with Sundsvall, he struggled mightily with Timra, only scoring one point through 23 games. Samuelsson’s struggles likely stem from his inability to gain weight, suffering from a gluten intolerance issue. He will have to find a way to work around his weight issues if he is going to make a push to become an NHL player one day.
Johan Ryno, C – Djurgardens IF Stockholm
Acquired: 5th round, 137th overall, 2005
6’4, 215 lbs.
Ryno’s issues regarding his unwillingness to play on North American ice and injury problems have likely caused the Red Wings to lose a bit of faith in the large Swede. He was able to overcome his leg injury during the 2008-09 season, as he wound up scoring 13 points over 21 games. He continued to show his offensive ability this season as well, netting 20 points over 47 games. While his offensive ability is certainly a plus, Ryno will have to come back over to North American ice in order for the Red Wings to get a proper look at him.
Anton Axelsson, LW – Timra IK
Acquired: 6th round, 192nd overall, 2004
6’0, 183 lbs.
Unfortunately for Axelsson, the 2009-10 season marked another year of regression for him. After slipping to just 15 points in 2008-09, he has only been able to put up 11 points over 51 games for Timra IK. Being one of the older prospects in Detroit’s system, Axelsson doesn’t have much time to impress the team, if any at all. If he does have a chance it will be through his solid defensive play, as he may be able to work himself in as a third or fourth-line checker.
Adam Almqvist, D – HV-71
Acquired: 7th round, 210th overall, 2009
The only new overseas addition to the Red Wings, Almqvist is a young defender who possesses a great deal of hockey sense and playmaking skills. He surprised many people when he put up an impressive 34 points over 15 games with HV-71’s under-20 team. Earning a call-up to the top league team, he cooled off but was still able to put up eight points over 28 games. In addition, he has been able to net a goal and an assist in HV-71’s four playoff games.
Gennady Stolyarov, C – Balashikha MVD
Acquired: 8th round, 257th overall, 2004
6’4, 187 lbs.
Returning from a serious injury, Strolyarov has only been able to play in one game for the Balashikha MVD club in the KHL. With his highest point total being a 20-point campaign in 2008-09, Stolyarov appears to be completely off the Red Wings’ radar now. The one positive for the lanky Russian-born player is the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the KHL, giving him essentially an unlimited amount of time to impress the Red Wings brass.