Teemu Pulkkinen’s elite shooting ability has always been his No. 1 asset — and the American Hockey League is getting a taste of what it’s all about this season.
The 22-year-old right-winger, long known as one of the purest goal-scorers in his age group dating back to his early teens in Finland, has quietly matured into the Grand Rapids Griffins’ most dangerous forward in his first North American season. He leads the Griffins in scoring and ranks 15th in the AHL with 24 goals and 24 assists for 48 points in 57 games.
Pulkkinen not only has one of the best shots in hockey, he knows how to get into scoring position and has an insatiable hunger to score. His 161 shots are tied for 14th in the AHL.
“He can create something out of nothing,” said Griffins head coach Jeff Blashill. “He can score goals from everywhere on the ice because he has an extremely dynamic shot — both his slap shot and his wrist shot. When goals are at such a premium in hockey, he’s one of those few guys who only needs one chance to score. His shot is that good.”
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 under-18 and under-20 levels, he was an outright sensational, tallying 26 goals and 24 assists for an astounding 50 points in just 25 games.
Pulkkinen still has work to do in Grand Rapids and the good news is the Red Wings can be patient because he has another season exempt from waivers. While his goal-scoring is what will get him to the NHL, he needs to improve defensively to get there. Blashill said Pulkkinen has gotten better as the season’s gone on and more importantly shown a willingness to learn.
“The thing I like about Teemu is he wants to get better,” Blashill said. “He listens, and he’s working at trying to get better. When he gets better (in the defensive zone), and when you have that ability to score … Boy, you become a commodity in a hurry.”
NOTES: Defenseman Alexey Marchenko (Grand Rapids, AHL) saw his rookie season come to an end this week because of a severe high ankle sprain. According to MLive.com, Marchenko will have surgery that will “hold two bones in place with a screw (to allow) the damaged ligament and tissue to heal properly.” Marchenko made his NHL debut earlier this season and recently played in the AHL All-Star Game. Red Wings assistant general manager Ryan Martin told MLive.com Marchenko was having a “tremendous year” and lauded him for “always making smart, simple plays.” … Left-winger Tyler Bertuzzi (Guelph, OHL) has been out since December with a head/neck injury and there’s no indication he’ll play again this season. According to the Guelph Mercury, Bertuzzi travelled to Detroit recently to be evaluated by the Red Wings’ medical personnel … Left-winger David Pope (West Kelowna, BCHL) is on fire with seven goals and seven assists in his past eight games. He’s up to 27 goals and 23 assists for 50 points in 45 games, while his goal-per-game pace of 0.60 is sixth in the league. Pope had a slow start to the season because of an injury but his recent production is an excellent sign. Headed to the NCAA with Nebraska-Omaha next season, Pope is a darkhorse prospect to keep an eye on … Left-winger Andreas Athanasiou (Barrie, OHL) had another hat trick on March 1. He’s had three other hat tricks since mid-December, with two four-goal games and a five-goal outburst … Defenseman Mike McKee (Western Michigan, NCAA) scored his first goal of the season last week … Defenseman Nick Jensen (Grand Rapids, AHL) stands to benefit from Marchenko’s injury with a boost in ice time. He recorded his first career AHL assist on Feb. 28 and followed that up with two more helpers on March 1 … Center Calle Jarnkrok (Grand Rapids, AHL) continues to heat up with 19 points (three goals, 16 assists) in his past 16 games … On the flip side, center/winger Landon Ferraro (Grand Rapids, AHL) has gone eight games without a point … Goaltender Petr Mrazek (Grand Rapids, AHL) posted his second shutout in just 22 starts on Feb. 23, a 29-save, 1-0 shootout win over Milwaukee. He’s on a five-game winning streak … Winger Tomas Jurco and centre Riley Sheahan continue to excel in Detroit on a “kid line” with Tomas Tatar. Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told MLive.com Sheahan is “a better player than I ever would have known,” while Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer said Jurco, “with his high skill at top speed,” is “a very dangerous rush player.” Neither should be expected back in Grand Rapids.
Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||54||2||37||39||52||+2||105|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||57||21||9||30||51||+16||157|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||32||13||19||32||14||+10||91|
|Marchenko, Alexey||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||49||3||15||18||14||+11||34|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||31||8||10||18||12||-2||51|
|Sproul, Ryan||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||55||8||16||24||36||+5||115|
|Glendening, Luke||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||18||5||7||12||18||+8||26|
|Jarnkrok, Calle||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||57||13||23||36||14||+19||99|
|Pulkkinen, Teemu||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||57||24||24||48||26||+20||161|
|Frk, Martin||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||34||1||5||6||16||-10||30|
|Jensen, Nick||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||28||0||3||3||6||+10||20|
|Tvrdon, Marek||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||54||12||14||26||40||-1||143|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||22||1||0||1||14||-4||30|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||13||0||0||0||0||+5||7|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||22||3||2||4||17||+3||36|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||51||7||12||19||16||0||65|
|Ouellet, Xavier||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||52||4||10||14||20||+2||64|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||3||0||0||0||2||-2||1|
|Nastasiuk, Zach||Owen Sound||OHL||CHL||56||20||26||46||24||-13||–|
|McNulty, Marc||Prince George||WHL||CHL||63||17||23||40||113||-8||–|
|De Haas, James||Clarkson||ECAC||NCAA||32||3||7||10||16||-13||38|
|McKee, Mike||W. Michigan||BIG-10||NCAA||15||1||0||1||48||-3||7|
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||USHL/JR-A||JR-A||45||27||23||50||20||–||–|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|Coreau, Jared||Grand Rapids||AHL||5||0||4||0||0||4.39||.873|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||22||16||5||1||2||2.11||.925|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||36||19||10||2||2||2.33||.922|