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Pulkkinen scoring, but still developing

Published Wednesday, January 8, 2014, 2:15 p.m. under 2013-14 RWC Reports
Teemu Pulkkinen

Teemu Pulkkinen (Credit: Mark Newman)

The Detroit Red Wings have called on the Grand Rapids Griffins for seven prospects this season, but Teemu Pulkkinen has yet to earn his first NHL look.

Pulkkinen, in his first full season in North America, ranks tied for 20th in AHL scoring with 12 goals and 16 assists for 28 points in 35 games, one point behind Griffins team leader Tomas Jurco. Offensively, as he’s been mostly his entire career in Finland and in major under-20 international tournaments, he’s been a big success.

“Teemu is one of those guys where the puck seems to follow him around the ice,” Griffins second-year head coach Jeff Blashill told “It’s probably because he’s a pretty smart player offensively, and he finds a way to win puck battles. When he’s got the puck on his stick, he’s got a real weapon of a shot.”

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder had three full seasons under his belt with Jokerit of the SM-Liiga before coming to Grand Rapids. In that time, he tallied 48 goals and 77 assists for 125 points in 170 games. At the international junior level, he was a sensation, tallying 26 goals and 24 assists for an astounding 50 points in just 25 games.

With another year exempt from waivers in 2014-15, the Red Wings have time to be patient with Pulkkinen, because he still has room for improvement as a scorer. But more importantly, he’ll need to work on his defensive game to follow in the foot-steps of other forward call-ups such as Luke Glendening, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco.

“He needs to learn how to play from the defensive side of the puck, how to make stops in the defensive zone,” Blashill told “All habits that come over time. I believe he’s getting better at those habits and that he will continue to improve.”

NOTES: Although Canada disappointed at the IIHF world junior championship, going medalless for a second straight year, the tournament was truly a success for right-winger Anthony Mantha (Val-d’Or, QMJHL). With five goals and six assists for 11 points in seven games, along with a plus-6 rating and 29 shots, he finished tied for third in tournament scoring and tied for second in goals. He was one of three players named to the media-voted all-star team and one of Canada’s top three players as selected by its coaching staff. Mantha returns to the QMJHL with a 12-point lead over Marcus Power of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the league scoring race … Goaltender Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL) lost his job to Zach Fucale in the round robin and finished with a 0-1-1 record in two starts, a 3.36 goals-against average and a .867 save percentage … Defenseman Alexey Marchenko was recalled to Detroit and made his NHL debut last week. He was a plus-2 with 13:21 of ice time. “Every time I call down to Grand Rapids they say he’s their best guy,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock told the Detroit Press. Babcock added after the game, to the Detroit News: “I thought he could really pass the puck, he knows how to play, he doesn’t get into trouble. So he was a real positive.” … Left-winger Tomas Jurco (Grand Rapids, AHL) was named to Team Slovakia for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, a big pat on the back for his strong season, and a chance to further prove himself ready for prime time. Jurco had two goals, one assist and an even plus-minus while averaging 12:56 of ice time in Detroit but was sent down to Grand Rapids prior to the Winter Classic. “Tomas is a high-end player in this league (the AHL), and he’s going to be a high-end player in the National Hockey League,” Blashill told “He makes something happen out of nothing.” … Mike McKee (Western Michigan, NCAA), drafted as a tough defenseman, was apparently used as a forward in his last game with the Broncos … Left-winger Andreas Athanasiou (Barrie, OHL) has used a 42-point explosion over his past 28 games to vault himself into the OHL’s top-20 scorers.

Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.


Almquist, Adam Grand Rapids AHL PRO 32 0 20 20 28 -2 53
Callahan, Mitchell Grand Rapids AHL PRO 35 13 5 18 37 +13 88
Jurco, Tomas Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 12 17 29 14 +8 81
Marchenko, Alexey Grand Rapids AHL PRO 33 2 14 16 6 +15 24
Sheahan, Riley Grand Rapids AHL PRO 27 7 10 17 10 +2 46
Sproul, Ryan Grand Rapids AHL PRO 35 6 14 20 16 +15 77
Glendening, Luke Grand Rapids AHL PRO 18 5 7 12 18 +8 26
Jarnkrok, Calle Grand Rapids AHL PRO 35 10 6 16 10 +13 63
Pulkkinen, Teemu Grand Rapids AHL PRO 35 12 16 28 20 +16 85
Frk, Martin Grand Rapids AHL PRO 13 0 0 0 8 -5 7
Jensen, Nick Grand Rapids AHL PRO 10 0 0 0 0 +2 3
Tvrdon, Marek Grand Rapids AHL PRO 1 0 0 0 0 0 3
Ferraro, Landon Grand Rapids AHL PRO 32 7 10 17 29 +4 87
Aubry, Louis-Marc Grand Rapids AHL PRO 4 0 0 0 5 -1 6
Fournier, Gleason Grand Rapids AHL PRO 9 0 0 0 0 +3 6
Parkes, Trevor Grand Rapids AHL PRO 4 0 0 0 2 -1 4
Nestrasil, Andrej Grand Rapids AHL PRO 29 3 5 8 12 +2 25
Ouellet, Xavier Grand Rapids AHL PRO 33 2 7 9 12 +10 40
Nedomlel, Richard Grand Rapids AHL PRO 3 0 0 0 2 -2 1
Parkes, Trevor Toledo ECHL PRO 26 16 16 32 20 -2 102
Frk, Martin Toledo ECHL PRO 15 5 8 13 10 -11 27
Nicastro, Max Toledo ECHL PRO 29 0 7 7 20 -7 56
Nedomlel, Richard Toledo ECHL PRO 18 3 1 4 57 -9 20
Tvrdon, Marek Toledo ECHL PRO 22 9 4 13 6 -8 59
Aubry, Louis-Marc Toledo ECHL PRO 15 5 5 10 8 -8 53
Jensen, Nick Toledo ECHL PRO 3 0 0 0 0 -2 4
Mantha, Anthony Val-d’Or QMJHL CHL 32 35 38 73 36 +17 180
Hudon, Philippe Victoriaville QMJHL CHL 31 10 4 14 45 -5 65
Athanasiou, Andreas Barrie OHL CHL 37 21 28 49 32 +13
Nastasiuk, Zach Owen Sound OHL CHL 40 13 18 31 16 -6
Bertuzzi, Tyler Guelph OHL CHL 29 10 25 35 49 +9
McNulty, Marc Prince George WHL CHL 38 7 14 21 69 -1
Wheaton, Mitchell Kelowna WHL CHL 24 2 13 15 18 +9
Janmark, Mattias AIK SEL EUR 32 16 9 25 50 -4 85
Backman, Mattias Linkoping SEL EUR 36 4 10 14 8 +23 43
Melen, Hampus Tingsryds SWE-J20 EUR-JR 11 0 5 5 14 -6 17
Bodin, Rasmus Linkoping SWE-J20 EUR-JR 14 0 2 2 2 -3 5
De Haas, James Clarkson ECAC NCAA 16 2 4 6 10 -1 21
Marshall, Ben Minnesota BIG-10 NCAA 17 2 5 7 29 +2 36
McKee, Mike W. Michigan BIG-10 NCAA 11 0 0 0 46 0 1
Pope, David W. Kelowna USHL/JR-A JR-A 25 12 8 20 10


Paterson, Jake Saginaw OHL 22 11 9 2 0 3.64 .900
Coreau, Jared Grand Rapids AHL 3 0 2 0 0 4.01 .860
Mrazek, Petr Grand Rapids AHL 13 10 2 1 1 2.09 .927
Coreau, Jared Toledo ECHL 9 1 5 3 0 4.42 .865
McCollum, Thomas Grand Rapids AHL 23 13 6 1 1 2.24 .923
  1. Kris says:

    Only the Rockets website has reported that he is joining them, nothing from the Wings, Griffins, or Walleye. He has been playing very well for the Walleye so I dont see him going back to Juniors as a smart move

  2. Brono says:

    What do you guys think the chances of Brian rafalski signing with the wings are? Would we want him… If he is 85 percent of the player he was. Do we want him? For those who didn’t see, he un-retired and signed with Florida echl team

  3. Patrick says:

    I dont think they would want him because he is so old… they are trying to get younger, not older… but KH loves his old guys, so who knows… I remember that he was a turnover machine his last 2 years, and he is 40… I think he can still play again though…

  4. Patrick says:

    And if he comes back to the NHL If I am not mistaken he has to be set on waivers from Detroit because he still had 1 year left at 6 million (which we can’t afford) but I am probly wrong on that…

  5. Brono says:

    Ya who knows but if we could grab him for league minimum e might be worth a shot… Those puck moving defencemen are hard to come by. I do remember him struggling his last 2 years… Maybe that time off to heal might have made him better. It probably is counter productive bringing him back thou

  6. […] Pulkkinen scoring, but still developing – Red Wings Central […]

  7. Patrick W. says:

    In contrast to your memories, over his last two years in the league Rafalski was third in defenseman CF% (minimum 1000 minutes, 5-on-5 close) behind Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith.

    I would also add that Campbell and Keith had lesser Quality of competition and much more favorable zone starts (inflating their numbers a bit).

    And before anyone says it’s the Lidstrom effect…Rafalski without Lidstrom was better than Lidstrom without Rafalski over that time :)

  8. RomaGoth says:

    In regards to Rafalski, he requested and was granted a release by the Wings prior to him signing with the Florida Everblades. Thus, he is no longer Detroit Red Wing property and could sign with anyone.

  9. yemenej says:

    Patrick, advanced stats can be nice and are much better than traditional statistics but they still do not tell the whole story. I don’t think anyone is mis-remembering Rafalski’s last years even if his CF% numbers were towards the top of the league. At the end of the day his back injuries had caught up to him and he was a step below is usual speed which caused him to rush the passes far more and they were far more likely to be intercepted. There is no denying that he was a turnover machine and corsi is a stat about shot attempts, not turnovers.

  10. Patrick says:

    Out of curiosity, when is the next prospects ranking? (Mid-season)

    I know other than a few like Athinasiou and Bertuzzi rising there wont be much change, but just curious

  11. Wes says:

    I have a Feeling Mantha will move up to around the 1-3 range Jurco will be number 1 Jarkrok will fall a bit. Pulkkinen should be above him for sure. Athanasiou will rise Tyler Bertuzzi should rise a good amount so should Callahan.
    so for me it would be
    1. Jurco – Surprised me by proving he is NHL ready and a top 6 at that
    2. Mantha – This kid is the real deal. looked better than Drouin at the WJC’s and thats saying something
    3. Mrazek – not because he’s fallin but because Jurco and Mantha have been better than anyone could have expected
    4. Ouellet – serviceable for the NHL at age 20 he has real top 3 potential
    5. Marchenko – slightly more offensive Ouellet already good enough for a spot on the Wings
    6. Pulkkinen – some might call this a Surprise I call it proof. he’s disproved the comments on his speed. and he has adjusted to the NA quickly. he’s a tougher version of Hudler who has a cannon
    7. Sheahan – already an upgrade at 4th line center but is currently playing center 2B and showing he can put up numbers.
    8. Jarnkrok – plays great every game. smart with the puck and creates a lot of chances. the numbers will come.
    9. Sproul – his offense is there its obvious but his defense is a real project, and its going to take time. he’s made some plays Quincy would laugh at
    10. Callahan – the biggest improvement by far. he plays great D and and can really PK but he has a nose for the net in the dirty areas and gets a lot of goals that Babcock would love. I have zero complaints about his play as of late. if he was a few inches taller and 20 pounds heavier he would be my dream 3rd liner.

    to be fair I watch a lot of Griffins hockey and very little CHL and Euro but I did watch ever Canadian WJC game.

  12. Patrick says:

    I can agree with most of that… I dont think Callahan should be that high…I think that 10 spot should belong to Glendening, but I have not seen him play

  13. Patrick says:

    12 games between now and the Olympic break… Franzen, Datsyuk, Helm, Gustavsson, and Ericsson should all be back by then (maybe Weiss)… that all said, I have 2 things…

    We are going to need to win between 7 and 9 to stay in playoff position (currently tied with Philly for 7th), otherwise we will probly be sunk after the playoffs… 9 of 12 are teams in that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today

    We are going to have a cap issue if everyone comes back… we will obviously send Sheahan, Glendening, Marchenko, Mrazek, and Eaves back down, but after that we will still be about 500k over the cap (give or take)… I really hope we can make a trade soon so we don’t have that happen…

  14. Patrick W. says:


    Corsi measures shot attempts, that’s true but it’s used (and has shown to be very reliable) as a proxy for measuring possession Your statement about Corsi not accounting for turnovers is not true. If he turned the puck over at an incredibly high rate, the Red Wings would not have possessed the puck as much as they did with him on the ice.

    There’s no denying that advanced stats don’t tell the whole story but these stats don’t indicate that he was average, good, pretty good or very good. Over a pretty good sample size, it’s showing he was elite, one of the very best in the NHL.

    We don’t measure goals or assists or wins but what people ‘think’ they remember because actually keeping track is more reliable. We can now keep track of how a player influences his team’s possession of the puck so you can say “he’s a turnover machine” but there are actual statistics that show that isn’t true.

  15. Patrick W. says:

    Addendum to above:

    I’m not saying that he really was one of the very best in the NHL over that time or that he was “elite” but rather that the statistical evidence is so strong in this case that it’s silly to completely discount it in favor of what you ‘think’ you remember. Quick Launch

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