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Wings in Waiting: Teemu Pulkkinen

Red Wings' prospect Pulkkinen set out to diversify his offensive skills after NHL draft

Wednesday, 07.2.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Wings in Waiting: Teemu Pulkkinen
Teemu Pulkkinen is expected to be among the Red Wings' second wave of prospects vying for a role in Detroit. He has 31 goals and 60 points in 73 AHL games. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Last September, when Teemu Pulkkinen stepped on the ice for a preseason game against the Blackhawks at Chicago’s United Center, he didn’t stay there very long.

Six seconds, to be exact.

At 2:16 of the first period, Pulkkinen was assessed a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct for a hit on Chicago defenseman Michael Kostka.

“The first exhibition game in Chicago, he ended up playing five seconds before he got suspended,” said Jiri Fischer, Detroit’s director of player development. “He jumped on the ice and he forechecked so hard that it ended up in a suspension for checking from behind.

“Obviously something we don't recommend doing, but looking at it from another point of view, this is a guy that was always known as a high-end elite producer, a scorer, a passer. Not as a forechecker. He comes to North America and he wants to play in the NHL. He hops on the ice and he wants to finish checks because he knows that's what the coach wants him to do. Very few Europeans can do that.”

Pulkkinen, the Red Wings’ fourth round pick in 2010, was known as a skilled scorer, but quickly proved he could help his teammates find the back of the net, too.

“Everybody talks about his shot,” Fischer said. “Everybody talks about how he can score, about his dangerous shot. Well, you know what? The following year (after being drafted), he goes out and sets the record for most assists.”

During the 2010-11 season, Pulkkinen played in 55 games for Jokerit in Finland, earning 18 goals and 36 assists. The forward’s assist mark broke Teemu Selanne’s single-season record (25) set during the 1990-91 season.

Pulkkinen joined the Grand Rapids Griffins in April 2013 after his third season with Jokerit, earning an assist and a minus-1 with two penalty minutes in two regular-season AHL games.

The forward played in 14 playoff games during the Griffins’ run to the Calder Cup championship, scoring three goals and adding two assists, and a plus-2 with 10 penalty minutes.

“When he got called up to Grand Rapids in the spring last year, he didn't earn the trust of (Griffins coach) Jeff Blashill to put him consistently in the lineup,” Fischer said. “He was basically watching in the press box for almost the entire playoffs.

“I believe he thought it was going to be easier for him to get better. I think he snoozed a little bit. Last year he started to work a little bit harder. He showed up in our development camp and he won the treadmill test. He showed up in great shape.”

Pulkkinen’s hard work paid off in his first full season with the Griffins, as he led the team and finished 16th in the league in scoring with 31 goals and 28 assists through 71 games.

The forward also made his NHL debut during the 2013-14 season, appearing in three games with the Red Wings in which he recorded four shots.

“Every game he plays, he is dangerous,” Fischer said. “Every team Grand Rapids plays against, they talk about him in their pre-game meetings. He's got a very dangerous shot; he's got a lot of confidence to shoot the puck. Now, off the rush, he's not afraid to challenge defensemen one on one. He just wants to play well. He just wants to be better than the other guy.”

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
P. Datsyuk 66 16 33 7 49
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80