Although still only 20 years old, Tomas Jurco is no longer the baby of the American Hockey League.
Back with the Grand Rapids Griffins for his sophomore year after an outstanding second half and playoff run as a rookie, Jurco is off to a good start with a goal and four assists in his first five games, second only to Gustav Nyquist in team scoring.
Jurco, a highly-skilled winger, started slowly as one of the AHL’s youngest players during the NHL lockout in 2012-13. Although he finished the regular season with just 28 points in 74 games, he put up 14 points in his final 22 contests and was even better in the playoffs, helping the Griffins win the Calder Cup with eight goals (third on team), six assists and 69 shots (second) in 22 games.
Now he’s being counted on to carry the offensive load on the Griffins’ top lines and it looks like he’s ready to take another step.
“He’s got a chance to be a top-six forward in the NHL, and very few guys get that opportunity,” Grand Rapids head coach Jeff Blashill told griffinshockey.com. “What he has to do now is take his play and turn it into production on a consistent basis without sacrificing anything from his defense or team game. That’s the challenge of learning to be a go-to guy.
“Tatar learned it. Nyquist learned it. Now he’s going to learn it, and that’s going to be the next step in his maturation process.”
Jurco, who stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 193 pounds, is a former QMJHL star who won a Memorial Cup in 2011 and was subsequently drafted in the second round, 35th overall, despite being ranked as a consensus first-rounder. Former assistant general manager Jim Nill has described Jurco as a “Marian Hossa-type player” as a big winger with tremendous skills.
NOTES: It’s clear how highly the Red Wings think of Xavier Ouellet, calling him up this week to make his NHL debut last week over Adam Almquist. Ouellet is bigger and stronger than Almquist and plays the poised, puck-moving, two-way game the Red Wings covet. He saw 17:15 of ice time in his NHL debut … Almquist is doing just fine, however, tied for second in team scoring with Grand Rapids … Luke Glendening was returned to Grand Rapids after a good stretch with the Red Wings. He appeared in five games, averaging 9:31 of ice time while centering the fourth line and killing plenty of penalties. It won’t be his last stint in Detroit … Center Landon Ferraro (Grand Rapids, AHL) has returned from a broken foot. After a breakthrough season, he’s in the mix for a call-up to Detroit but it may take him some time to find his stride due to the injury … Defenseman Mitchell Wheaton (Kelowna, WHL) returned from injury last week and made his season debut … Right-winger Martin Frk (Grand Rapids, AHL) is having a rude awakening in the pros. It’s not a huge shock — he produced great numbers in junior — but his game needs to come up in a lot of areas for him to be a regular at the pro level.
Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||0||5||5||2||+2||10|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||2||1||3||2||+3||10|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||1||4||5||0||+2||15|
|Marchenko, Alexey||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||1||3||4||4||+2||4|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||2||0||2||4||+1||10|
|Sproul, Ryan||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||2||1||3||2||+2||13|
|Glendening, Luke||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||2||0||2||2||4||+3||3|
|Jarnkrok, Calle||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||1||1||2||0||+4||10|
|Pulkkinen, Teemu||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||2||2||4||6||+3||15|
|Frk, Martin||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||2||0||0||0||0||-1||1|
|Tvrdon, Marek||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||0||0||0||2||-1||6|
|Ouellet, Xavier||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||5||0||2||2||0||+1||12|
|Nastasiuk, Zach||Owen Sound||OHL||CHL||12||7||7||14||8||-6||–|
|McNulty, Marc||Prince George||WHL||CHL||14||2||4||6||32||+1||–|
|De Haas, James||Clarkson||ECAC||NCAA||4||1||0||1||2||-1||9|
|McKee, Mike||W. Michigan||BIG-10||NCAA||2||0||0||0||4||0||0|
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||USHL/JR-A||JR-A||9||5||3||0||–||–|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Coreau, Jared||Grand Rapids||AHL||1||0||1||0||0||3.82||.846|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||1||1||1||0||3.19||.884|