The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/08/12 at 03:43 PM ET
Updated with Doan gabba and more Pulkkinen/Jarnkrok talk at 3:18 PM: In light of the Red Wings’ signing of Tomas Jurco to a 3-year, entry-level contract, MLive’s Brendan Savage offered some surprisingly glib comments from Jurco regarding the start of his professional career as a member of the Grand Rapids Griffins:
“It’s up to me if I play good,” he said. “They’re going to put me in the AHL. I just hope I’m going to play good. It’s a big step for me to go from junior hockey to man hockey. They’re going to watch me. It’s on me. I’m really nervous. I don’t know what to expect. I’ve never played in the AHL before. I’m really excited. I’m going to work hard and try my best. It’s going to go well. (I want to) be one of the key players in the AHL.”
Jurco certainly has the potential based on his career in juniors, where he was a point-a-game guy in three seasons with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 172 regular-season games with Saint John, the 6-foot-2, 193-pound Jurco had 175 points after bagging 87 goals to go with 88 assists. He also had a plus-126 rating and was 16-for-19 in shootouts during his time in Saint John.
“I like to score goals and make points,” Jurco said.
Jurco played a supporting role with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs thanks to their tremendous depth, but he held his own in the QMJHL, especially in the playoffs:
Jurco and the Sea Dogs – who are coached by former Red Wings forward Gerard Gallant – also won back-to-back President’s Cups as the QMJHL champions. In 56 career President’s Cup games, Jurco had 26 goals and 38 assists. In eight career Memorial Cup games, he had six goals and two assists.
Last season, Jurco was the Sea Dogs’ fourth-leading scorer with 30 goals and 38 assists in 48 games.
And Jurco does hope to crack the Wings’ roster, if only for a “cup of coffee” call-up:
“That would be great,” said Jurco, 19. “I hope it’s going to be in the next couple of years. I’m going to play well. I’ll do my best and we’ll see. It’s on them. I can’t do anything about it. Just play my game. Last year, I played an exhibition game and I was on a team with (Nicklas) Lidstrom and (Henrik) Zetterberg. That was great. I like (Pavel) Datsyuk and Zetterberg and all those guys. I never had a favorite team – until now.”
In other prospect news, this Tweet from the Wings is downright strange:
The Red Wings have assigned forward prospects Teemu Pulkkinen to Jokerit (Finland) and Calle Jarnkrok to Brynas (Sweden) for next season.— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) August 8, 2012
I genuinely wonder whether the Wings were just tossing something off because it’s mid-August, for a simple reason: because of IIHF rules, neither Pulkkinen nor Jarnkrok can play in North America unless they make the Wings’ roster until the 2013-2014 season, and the Red Wings’ brass made it very clear this summer that they have no desire to bring Pulkkinen or Jarnkrok over to play as the team’s 14th or 15th forwards, spending most of the time in the press box.
The Wings didn’t plan on doing anything other than keeping Pulkkinen and Jarnkrok in Europe for at least one more season—Pulkkinen needs to have a strong statistical season for Jokerit before coming over to the Griffins or Wings, and Jarnkrok, who will wear an alternate captain’s “A” with Brynas, is expected to bulk up physically, embrace that leadership role and possibly just plain old make the jump to the NHL in a year or two.
The Wings really don’t want to bring either player over for any AHL seasoning because they’re so talented that the Wings believe the pair will be ready to play in the NHL when they’re finally ready to to come over to North America, so there’s no reason to worry about this “move.”
It’s nothing to be worried about and it’s nothing but a formality.
In news from the other side of the Atlantic, sort of, Allhockey.ru and NHL.ru sent me on a bit of a wild goose chase which led to this rumor posited by the Calgary Herald—in an article with no author listed—from July 31st:
Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester is on the move. But it’s not what you might think.
While the seven-year National Hockey Leaguer has been the subject of considerable trade conjecture, the 28-year-old native of Edmonton is actually going to Ghana in support of Right To Play. The organization strives to improve the lives of children in impoverished world-wide areas through the power of sports.
Bouwmeester will spend a full week in Ghana, travelling to the country’s capital city of Accra as well as Dodowa, Obom and Battor while participating in assorted programs directed by Right to Play’s volunteers.
Bouwmeester, who has spent the past three years with the Flames, is one of nine defencemen the club has signed to one-way deals for the upcoming season. He is the highest paid of the blueline corps at $6.68 million, with two years left on his contract. The latest trade rumour had the Detroit Red Wings allegedly making a pitch for the six-foot-four, 214-pounder.
That’s swell and all, but a rumor pertaining to a story about a rumor pertaining to a story listing “the latest trade rumor” isn’t exactly verifiable truth…
• And in more serious news, from NHL.com’s Mike G. Morreale:
While members of the Canadian National Junior Team have had plenty to think about prior to their meeting with Russia in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge, the sport of hockey was put on hold Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the series opener.
Yaroslavl, the host Russian city for the Challenge series, lost its entire KHL team in a tragic plane crash 11 months ago. The Sept. 7 crash of the Yak-42 plane near Yaroslavl in central Russia killed 36 players, coaches and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. The only player who survived the crash later died of burns. A flight engineer was the sole survivor.
On Wednesday, Canadian and Russian national team players and coaches took part in a memorial ceremony for those victims, lining up in front of the newly built hockey arena, Neftestroy, where locals have been placing flowers ever since the accident. Huge banners were displayed with photos of players and staff that perished in the accident.
Byron McCrimmon, the father of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl coach Brad McCrimmon, who was among those killed in the plane accident, also attended the ceremony.
“I’ve had the pleasure riding in the front seat every day with Byron McCrimmon, Brad’s father, and it was a difficult day for him,” Team Canada coach Steve Spott told NHL.com. “We’re here to prepare for the World Junior Championship in December and pay respects to the players of the 1972 Summit Series, but we’re also here to pay respects to those who lost their lives for the Yaroslavl team last year.
“Having Byron on this trip has been an inspiration to everybody included with our Canadian team. He’s a pillar of strength and I think it meant a lot to him to see both teams and both countries pay respects to his son.”
Hockey Canada invited any member of the McCrimmon family to join the club on the trip to Yaroslavl, given that there would be a tribute to the Lokomotiv. According to Hockey Canada’s public relations department, Byron wanted to accompany the team.
And finally, ESPN’s Craig Custance offered the following assessment of Team USA’s goaltending looking toward the 2014 Olympics:
2010 Holdover Locks
Goalies: Ryan Miller, Sabres; Jonathan Quick, Kings
Comment: Miller was the clear-cut starter in Vancouver, but Quick’s breakout this past season—one that included a Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup—dramatically closed the gap. Goaltending is the one clear edge the Americans hold over Team Canada, even with Tim Thomas on hiatus. Team USA’s starting goalie job has the potential to be one of the more compelling storylines of the Sochi games.
Potential 2014 additions
Goalies: Cory Schneider, Canucks; Jimmy Howard, Red Wings; Craig Anderson, Senators
Comment: These three goalies will likely be battling for the spot vacated by Thomas. Of the three, Schneider has the most potential to challenge for the starting job now that he’s the starter in Vancouver. A rare first-round playoff exit for the Red Wings this spring gave Howard international experience and exposure during the World Championships.
Update: Urgh. Via Pro Hockey Talk’s Mike Halford, here’s a trip down the rails of the crazy train with Shane Doan’s agent, Terry Bross, who talked to the New York Daily News’s Pat Leonard about his client’s adventures:
On Tuesday, Doan’s agent, Terry Bross, confirmed that his client has visited only three teams during free agency: the Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks.
Doan, who has relationships up and down New York’s coaching staff, was already interested in the Rangers when he visited the Big Apple on July 20. So it probably didn’t hurt three days later when the Blueshirts swung a blockbuster deal to land star winger Rick Nash from Columbus, further cementing their status as a Cup contender.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are reportedly keen on the veteran right wing, and the Nashville Predators also are interested, but Doan is so reluctant to uproot his family from Phoenix that he’s already extended the deadline once for Jamison’s group to swing a deal.
Doan originally set a deadline of July 28 for Jamison to convince him the team would remain in Phoenix, but that day he met with the former San Jose Sharks CEO and decided to give Jamison more time. If there’s anything Doan wants to avoid, it’s making a rash decision to leave, only to find out later the franchise will remain in Arizona.
“We’re trying to see this thing through with the Coyotes, and a decision could come at any time,” Bross said Tuesday.
Bross confirmed that a team outside of New York has offered Doan a four-year deal worth at least $7 million per season, both a high price and long term for a player who turns 36 on Oct. 10 and racked up his lowest point total last season (50) since 2001-02. There is no telling whether that offer comes from a team in which Doan has interest, though, so there is no knowing what leverage it would create against the Blueshirts and GM Glen Sather.
• And it appears that the Wings did the Pulkkinen/Jarnkrok thing to generate discussion, because MLive’s Brendan Savage took the opportunity to revisit Ken Holland’s comment s about keeping Pulkkinen and Jarnkrok in Europe until they’re ready to play for the big club:
They’re just young players,” said general manager Ken Holland. “Our experience through the last 15 or 20 years with Europeans is unless they’re ready to play in the National Hockey League, they’re probably best playing in Europe. Both are in good spots on their Finnish club and Swedish club. But ideally we’d like to have them at training camp.”
That’s assuming the owners and players can agree to a new collective bargaining agreement – the current CBA expires Sept. 15 – and avoid a work stoppage. In the case of a lockout, it’s unlikely Jarnkrok and Pulkkinen would attend training camp if it doesn’t begin on time in September.
“For those two guys, the CBA has to be negotiated on time because the Finnish and Swedish leagues start their season in mid- to late September,” Holland said. “If the CBA can be negotiated and we start on time, it’s a real good experience for those guys to come over and spend some time over here. It’s just knowledge for them down the road.”
“Jarnkrok is one of the leading scorers in the Swedish Elite League, his team has won championships, he was picked to play in the world championships,” Holland said. “He’s in a good spot. He has to get stronger. We definitely think he’s going to play in the NHL at some point. But right now, he’s still developing. We think he’s in a good spot. He’s an important guy on his team. It’s a good league. He’s working his way. Pulkkinen is the same thing.”
Pulkkinen, 20, attended the prospects camp and was one of the most impressive players among the 41 on hand. His fitness level impressed the Red Wings. Like Jarnkrok, he was selected in the 2010 draft – fourth round, 111th overall – and has spent the past four seasons playing in Finland. In 126 games for Jokerit, Pulkkinen has 35 goals and 59 assists. Last season, he had 16 goals and 21 assists in 56 games.
“I talked to his general manager when I was over in Helsinki at the World Championships and he wasn’t as consistent as the previous year,” Holland said. “I think a lot of that had to do with maturity. He’s worked incredibly hard the last six, seven, eight weeks since the end of the season. He’s motivated to have a bounce back year. That’s all part of player development. Adversity is a good thing. That’s where you develop character. Young players get a little satisfied where older, veteran players have been through the ups and downs and know you have to stick with it. He’s not ready to play in the National Hockey League. He needs to establish himself as the player he was two years ago in the Finnish League. Last year, he was up and down.”
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.