|Photo courtesy of Chris "Hoss" Jerina|
Born: July 24, 1989 (age 21)
6 ft 1 in
Almond came into his first pro season, after being drafted in the 5th round by the Wild in 2007, with four increasingly successful years with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets under his belt. I liked his game from the start, but I found myself wondering: What is this guy's role? Is he a checker, a scorer, an agitator? What he's developing into is a hard-nosed power forward with a strong defensive mind-set and, just in general, a fun guy to watch play hockey.
With his excellent attention to his own end of the ice and fearless physical play (in spite of a couple of injuries that threatened to set him back), and his offensive upside and sharp hockey sense, Almond impressed coach Kevin Constantine and the bosses with the Wild enough to earn 7 games in the show last season.
He won’t likely make the Wild out of camp as the Wild have a glut of centers and he needs more time to develop, so for now, he’ll be in Houston.
Last season he racked up 18 points in 48 games, most of those in the second half of the season when he started to settle in to the pro game and was able to take advantage of the offensive talents that led him to nearly a point per game season his last year in Kelowna.
Almond isn’t a fighter, but never hesitated to come to a teammate's (or his own) defense and plays a pretty gritty game for a guy with decent hands like he has. He should be a real asset to the Aeros this season and should continue to make his case to be in Minnesota full time in 2011-12.