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Nifty Jarnkrok can ‘own the puck’

Published Sunday, June 27, 2010, 12:01 a.m. under 2010 Draft Coverage

Calle Jarnkrok lists the Detroit Red Wings as his favorite team and Henrik Zetterberg as his favorite player. Given that, the nifty Swede is going to love what the Red Wings had to say about him after drafting him.

“I like to think of him like a Zetterberg,” said Red Wings scout Ari Vuori. “He wants to have the puck, he wants to hold onto the puck all the time, he makes plays (for his linemates) and he knows how to score himself.”

The Red Wings jumped all over Jarnkrok with their second-round pick (51st overall) in Saturday’s NHL draft in Los Angeles. Central Scouting ranked him as the fourth-best European skater in the draft after bumping him up 13 spots from mid-season, and the Red Wings absolutely love his offensive upside.

The rail-thin 5-foot-11 156-pounder first caught the eyes of Red Wings’ scouts at various under-18 international tournaments early in the year, but it was later in the campaign when he was called up to Brynas’s Swedish Elite League club that he really started to skyrocket up their pre-draft ranking.

After finishing third in J-20 SuperElit scoring with 31 points in 19 games, he put up four goals and six assists in 33 games in the Elite League. He wasn’t a spare part, either, taking a regular shift on the power play.

“He was good early on, but when he can go to the Swedish Elite League and play on the power play and pretty well own the puck for a lot of the time he’s out there, that tells you something,” said Red Wings director of scouting Joe McDonnell. “He has a lot of skill. His skating and playmaking ability are the big things with him. He’s really good with the puck and he sees the ice really well.”

Vuori raved about Jarnkrok’s smarts and power-play instincts, calling him “involved” and saying he’s “not shy playing against pros.” He can carry the puck in top flight and his 1-on-1 skills help him make highlight-reel plays.

Teams may have been down on Jarnkrok because of his size.

“We met him at the draft … 156 pounds might be a little light — I didn’t pick him up — but he’s definitely pretty slim,” McDonnell said.

That’s where the comparison to Zetterberg holds the most water. The Red Wings star almost didn’t get drafted back in 1999 because he was virtually the same size as Jarnkrok. But Zetterberg dedicated himself to getting stronger and the rest is history. Can Jarnkrok do the same? The Red Wings aren’t sure, but they give him high marks for on-ice work ethic and competitiveness.

“The thing we’ll find out now is how well he competes off the ice in order to get bigger,” McDonnell said. “That’s the big thing with him.”

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