The trading of Calle Jarnkrok has been the subject of much debate since the Detroit Red Wings sent the Swedish center to the Nashville Predators to acquire veteran David Legwand.
Did the Red Wings sell off a critical piece of their future for a short-term patch job? Or was Jarnkrok an expendable asset because of the organization’s impressive depth?
The fact is, the Red Wings gave up a solid prospect who has potential to be a second-line NHL center in the mold of Valtteri Filppula. As general manager Ken Holland conceded to MLive.com, “I think he’s going to play in the NHL.” But as much potential as Jarnkrok has to be an NHL contributor some day, he also wasn’t ready to play in Detroit — not now, and very likely not next fall.
Jarnkrok, a former Swedish Hockey League star with Brynas who the Red Wings drafted 51st overall in 2010, was in the midst of his first American Hockey League season with the Grand Rapids Griffins and his adjustment to North America was not as smooth as expected.
At age 22, his offensive production — 36 points in 57 games — was less than hoped, even with 19 points in his 16 games before the trade. And at six feet and 188 pounds, he was too easily knocked off the puck. At the same time, Jarnkrok is an outstanding defensive forward who works hard every shift.
Before the trade, the Red Wings were hoping a good off-season in the gym might result in Jarnkrok having a breakout AHL year in 2014-15. But with so many centers in the organization — Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zettberberg, Stephen Weiss, Darren Helm, Joakim Andersson, Riley Sheahan, Luke Glendening and now Legwand — the Red Wings, when even remotely healthy, would have been a hard squad for Jarnkrok to crack. Sheahan’s emergence as a solid NHLer only exacerbated the issue.
“Going into September … we just thought it was going to be difficult for him to crack our team,” Holland told Sportsnet.
There were also rumblings Jarnkrok might have been unhappy with spending another season earning $67,500 in the minors, and that Brynas might try to lure him back home with a much more lucrative contract. TSN indicated Jarnkrok was considering a return to Sweden, while John Niyo of the Detroit News said that while no trade request was made, Jarnkrok and his agent were “antsy.”
The Predators, meanwhile, don’t have as much depth at center as the Red Wings and will give Jarnkrok every opportunity to crack their roster next fall.
“I think he’s a player who has a really good chance to compete for a job next year,” Predators general manager David Poile told the Nasvhille Tennessean. “This kid has terrific hockey sense, great hands. He’s a really good skater and a really good competitor.”
Legwand wasn’t going to be acquired for a song after 16 years as the face of the Predators franchise, and he helped the Red Wings plug a hole at center caused by a deluge of injuries. If he finishes strong, there appears to be a decent chance he’ll re-sign in Detroit, which would lessen the blow of losing a top prospect.
The trade leaves the Red Wings with only two legitimate NHL prospects at the center position: speedy Landon Ferraro, a two-way player in Grand Rapids who has struggled offensively, and highly-skilled Swede Mattias Janmark. Expect them to invest in a few centers on draft day to lead the next generation.
NOTES: The Hockey News released its annual Future Watch prospect rankings prior to the Legwand trade and the Red Wings were the only franchise with five prospects rated in the top 75 — Anthony Mantha (10th), Tomas Jurco (32nd), Jarnkrok (41st), Xavier Ouellet (63rd) and Riley Sheahan (66th). Inexplicably omitted was goaltender Petr Mrazek, who THN only ranked seventh among Red Wings prospects. It’s hard to reason that one … Regarding Mantha, Holland told TSN the big, skilled winger is “untouchable.” “We want to develop him into a Red Wing.” Mantha has all but clinched the QMJHL scoring crown with 115 points in 55 games … Left-winger David Pope (West Kelowna, BCHL) was named a BCHL second-team all-star. He overcame early-season injuries to light it up with 27 goals among 50 points in 45 games … Winger Teemu Pulkkinen (Grand Rapids, AHL) lost his linemate when Jarnkrok was traded but still managed to break Justin Abdelkader’s franchise rookie scoring record with his 25th goal of the season on March 7. Pulkkinen is tied for fifth in the league in goals with 26 and his team-leading 51 points are 14th in the circuit and second among rookies … Right-winger Zach Nastasiuk (Owen Sound, OHL) has picked up his offensive game, with six goals and three assists in his past four games … Defenseman Mattias Backman (Linkoping, SHL) saw his regular season come to a close last week. Backman’s plus-25 rating was No. 1 in the SHL while his 21 points in 54 games ranked 13th among defensemen. Linkoping is in a best-of-three play-in series with MoDo in its bid to make the playoffs … Mike McKee (Western Michigan, NCAA) has been converted from defense to forward. He missed a number of games earlier this season to ease the adjustment. “Mike has worked extremely hard, and we have been doing extra sessions with him,” head coach Andy Murray told mihockeynow.com. “We decided that rather than have him play games and him not totally being ready, we would give him extra skill sessions … it looks like it’s paying dividends.”
Sarah Lindenau contributed to this report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Almquist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||57||3||39||42||52||+7||109|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||60||21||12||33||51||+20||163|
|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||58||8||16||24||38||+3||121|
|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||60||26||25||51||30||+20||175|
|Frk, Martin||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||37||2||5||7||20||-11||32|
|Jensen, Nick||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||30||0||4||4||6||+11||23|
|Tvrdon, Marek||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||1||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||57||13||14||27||40||0||158|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||25||1||0||1||14||-3||32|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||15||0||1||1||0||+4||8|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||25||3||2||5||17||+2||39|
|Nestrasil, Andrej||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||54||7||13||20||16||0||73|
|Ouellet, Xavier||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||55||4||12||16||20||+2||68|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||3||0||0||0||2||-2||1|
|Nastasiuk, Zach||Owen Sound||OHL||CHL||59||23||28||51||26||-14||–|
|McNulty, Marc||Prince George||WHL||CHL||65||17||23||40||113||-11||–|
|De Haas, James||Clarkson||ECAC||NCAA||35||5||7||12||16||-11||45|
|McKee, Mike||W. Michigan||BIG-10||NCAA||17||1||0||1||52||-3||7|
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||BCHL||USHL/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||24||18||5||1||2||2.01||.928|
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||37||19||11||2||2||2.32||.922|
SKATERS: PLAYOFF REPORT
|Pope, David||W. Kelowna||BCHL||USHL/JR. A||5||2||4||6||2||—||—|