Calle Jarnkrok refuses to cheat — and while that’s a good thing for an organization built around elite two-way players, it’s a bad thing for his stats.
The 22-year-old center, who arrived in North America on the heels of a top-10 finish in Swedish Hockey League scoring, has struggled to duplicate that offensive success in his first full American Hockey League season with the Grand Rapids Griffins. So far, he has just 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points in 44 games.
“He’s such a complete player, so, so well-rounded in his game, that he never cheats at all offensively,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “When you’re going from a bigger sheet (of ice) to playing on a smaller sheet and the NHL style, you have to learn to create the same offense. But because he’s such a complete player, he’s not willing to do it without sacrificing the defense. That makes the transition for those well-rounded offensive guys a little bit longer. But it’s just a matter of time, in my opinion.”
Before coming to Grand Rapids, Jarnkrok — who the Detroit Red Wings drafted 51st overall in 2010 — had 39 points in 50 games for Brynas in 2011-12 (14th in the SHL). He followed that up with 42 points in 53 games in 2012-13 (tied for eighth). He also played for Sweden at the 2012 and 2013 IIHF world championships.
The 6-foot, 180-pounder’s NHL upside lies somewhere between a Valtteri Filppula and a Henrik Zetterberg. He works hard and plays a 200-foot game, but also skates well, is strong on the puck, has quick hands and high-level hockey sense.
Blashill said Jarnkrok has shown “flashes of real, real high-end skill.”
“He’s extremely talented with a very, very good brain for the game,” Blashill said.
One thing that will help Jarnkrok be more impactful in North America is added strength. Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson said in early January that Jarnkrok could stand to gain 10 more pounds and Blashill concurs.
“It’s a matter of learning to create the same space here that he had naturally on the bigger sheet,” Blashill said. “That’s going to be done with his brain, and also with his off-ice work, getting stronger, getting bigger, getting thicker.”
Regardless of that fact that Jarnkrok’s production is a little less than hoped, he’s played a big role in the Griffins’ second-overall record of 29-13-4.
“I’ve been extremely pleased with him,” Blashill said. “He’s been a big factor in us winning lots of games and his production will follow as the year continues.”
NOTES: Defenseman Adam Almquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) has two goals and 10 assists in his past seven games to climb into a tie for sixth in league scoring among blueliners. Overall, he has two goals and 30 assists in 43 games. Blashill said he’d like to see Almquist improve the Griffins’ power play by a couple of percentage points — it’s sixth in the league at 20.8 per cent — down the stretch. He added that the 5-foot-11 178-pounder needs to get stronger to make the Red Wings out of camp next season. “He’s got a body type that’s not easy to add mass to,” Blashill said. “He’s got to continue to get stronger and that will be a big key for him.” … Right-winger Martin Frk (Grand Rapids, AHL) continues to struggle, with just two assists in 24 games as a rookie pro. Blashill said Frk has been hurt by the Griffins’ deep roster and noted he needs to learn to play with pace. “He needs to make sure when he gets the puck, he’s got to move his feet,” Blashill said. “He has a habit of standing still and (playing) the game slow, where in the AHL and certainly in the NHL, you have to play fast and get moving — otherwise people are on top of you too quickly.” … Winger Teemu Pulkkinen (Grand Rapids, AHL) has five goals and four assists in his past five games and his team-leading 40 points in 46 games puts him in a tie for 11th in league scoring … Defenseman Ben Marshall (Minnesota, NCAA) was suspended for the second time this season for one game for a hit to the head … Goaltender Jake Paterson (Saginaw, OHL) posted his second shutout since returning from the IIHF world junior championship in early January, a 29-save win over Belleville. He’s 7-3 with a .928 save percentage in the new year … Defenseman Mitchell Wheaton (Kelowna, WHL) earned high praise from his head coach, Dan Lambert, this week. Wheaton has 23 points and a plus-19 ranking in 37 games for the powerful Rockets. “You see how much game sense he has,” Lambert told the Kelowna Capital News. “Typically guys his size are more physical and play that big, more brutal game. Mitch does have some of that, but certainly his biggest asset is his vision and his ability to break pucks out of our end.” … Winger Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph, OHL) hasn’t played since early December with a head/neck injury and could miss another two to six weeks, according to the Guelph Mercury. The injury is not a concussion, according to the report, but it’s the same injury that forced him to miss 25 games last season. “He’s making very good progress, but there is no exact return date at this point,” Storm general manager Mike Kelly told the paper. “He’s a huge part of the team and we want him back, but the most important thing is his health,” head coach Scott Walker added. Bertuzzi has 35 points in 29 games.
Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||43||2||30||32||38||+2||76|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||46||18||8||26||37||+16||130|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||32||13||19||32||14||+10||91|
|Marchenko, Alexey||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||41||2||15||17||10||+14||30|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||28||8||10||18||10||+1||49|
|Sproul, Ryan||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||46||8||15||23||30||+8||104|
|Glendening, Luke||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||18||5||7||12||18||+8||26|
|Jarnkrok, Calle||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||46||10||14||24||14||+14||75|
|Pulkkinen, Teemu||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||46||18||22||40||24||+15||134|
|Frk, Martin||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||24||0||2||2||12||-13||24|
|Jensen, Nick||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||19||0||0||0||2||+2||12|
|Tvrdon, Marek||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||43||11||13||24||29||+1||122|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||12||1||0||1||12||-2||13|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||11||0||0||0||0||+3||6|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||13||1||1||2||4||+1||20|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||40||5||8||13||12||-1||42|
|Ouellet, Xavier||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||43||4||9||13||20||+6||57|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||3||0||0||0||2||-2||1|
|Nastasiuk, Zach||Owen Sound||OHL||CHL||49||16||22||38||18||-13||–|
|McNulty, Marc||Prince George||WHL||CHL||50||13||19||32||92||-2||–|
|De Haas, James||Clarkson||ECAC||NCAA||26||2||6||8||14||-6||33|
|McKee, Mike||W. Michigan||BIG-10||NCAA||11||0||0||0||46||0||1|
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||USHL/JR-A||JR-A||34||18||14||32||12||–||–|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Coreau, Jared||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||0||2||0||0||4.01||.860|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||14||11||2||1||1||2.07||.928|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||32||18||9||1||2||2.32||.922|