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One down, two to go: Red Wings sign Teemu Pulkkinen

Updated 4x at 6:46 PM: According to the Red Wings’ Twitter account, the team has signed the first of three prospects they plan on signing this week to an entry-level contract:

The Red Wings have signed Teemu Pulkkinen to a three-year entry level contract. He was a 4th round pick (111th overall) in the 2010 Draft.

The Wings will also sign Tomas Jurco and Calle Jarnkrok to entry-level deals in short order.

The Free Press’s Helene St. James is confirming the signing, and we’ll hear more about Pulkkinen’s deal soon.

Update: Here’s DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose confirming the signing:

The Red Wings have signed Teemu Pulkkinen, an offensive, playmaking forward, to a three-year entry-level contract on Tuesday.

A fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Pulkkinen belongs to the Wings draft class that includes defenseman Riley Sheahan and center Louis-Marc Aubry, who played in Grand Rapids last season.

Pulkkinen who turned 20 in January, is a solid offensive and creative winger with good hands and is a natural goal scorer. He spent parts of four seasons, including the past two full campaigns, with the Helsinki Jokers in the SM-liiga, which is considered the top league in Finland. There, Pulkkinen, a 5-foot-10, 198-pound right wing, collected 35 goals and 59 assists in 126 games.

Last season, Pulkkinen was second in team scoring for the Jokers, netting 16 goals and 21 assists in 56 games. He also represented Finland at several international tournaments, finishing in the top 10 in scoring at both the 2011 and 2012 World Junior Championships. And at the 2010 World U-18 Championships in Belarus, Pulkkinen led the tourney in scoring with 15 points in six games as the Finns repeated as bronze medalists.

He is only the second Finnish-born player drafted by the Wings since Valtteri Filppula was selected in the third-round of the 2002 draft. Detroit drafted defenseman Juho Mielonen, who continues to play in Finland.

Pulkkinen will join the Griffins in the American Hockey League next season.

That last part is news to me. As far as I knew it, the Wings planed on leaving Pulkkinen in Finland…And Jokerit translates to “Jokers” in English.

Update #2: Also of brief Wings-related note this afternoon: According to the Grand Rapids Griffins (via RedWingsFeed), Jason Williams has finally crossed the pond, and will play for Ambri-Piotta in Switzerland next season, and I think it’s kind of cute that Sports Illustrated’s named Larry Murphy an “Iconic King,” posting a picture of Murph as a youngster playing for LA. No hot dogs are present in the photo.

Update #3: Okey dokey, here’s MLIve’s Ansar Khan’s confirmation:

The Detroit Red Wings have signed right wing Teemu Pulkkinen to a three-year entry-level contract.

Pulkkinen, Detroit’s fourth-round pick in 2010 (111th overall), has spent the past two seasons with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League, totaling 94 points (35 goals, 59 assists) in 126 games.

Pulkkinen (5-foot-10, 194) will join the Red Wings at training camp but is likely to spend one more season in Europe. He is not eligible to play for the Grand Rapids Griffins in 2012-13 because of his draft year.

The Red Wings anticipate signing two other picks, forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Tomas Jurco, by Friday’s deadline.

More details shortly.

Update #3.5: The Detroit News also confirms:

Forward Teemu Pulkkinen, 20, signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Red Wings, the team announced Tuesday.

Pulkkinen, 5 foot 10 and 194 pounds, was drafted by the Wings in the fourth round, 111th overall. He had 35 goals and 59 assists the past two seasons with Jokerit Helsinki of the Finnish Elite League, and finished in the top 10 in scoring for the Finland national team at the 2011 and 2012 IIHF World Junior Championships.

Update #4: The Free Press’s James Jahnke is also confirming, as is the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness...

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan fired off a pair of Twitter updates...

Have been working on SC preview story (I’m picking NJ, incidentally) but Wings have signed Teemu Pulkkinen to entry-level contract
Pulkkinen is a sniper, a goal scorer, who should be joining Wings in ‘12-13..Calle Jarnkrok and Tomas Jurco 2 other prospects to be signed

The Free Press’s Helene St. James did the same...

“@ClintonChanges: @freepwings sounds like a good hockey name!”/I know, let’s hope he’s also got Selanne’s affability
“@manitobafarmboy: @freepwings good read. This will be a very interesting off season for Wings…Change is needed but will it happen?”/Yes

And Ansar Khan updated his story on MLive with some quips from Wings assistant GM Jim Nill:

“He’s a shooter, kind of unique for a European because Europeans are always known for over-passing,’’ Red Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “You don’t like to make comparisons, but his game is a lot like Brett Hull’s. He’s got a quick release, he’s pure goal-scorer.’‘

Like most 20-year-olds, Pulkkinen needs to gain more strength and play more of a two-way game, but Nill said, “That stuff can be taught.’‘

Pulkkinen had 16 goals and 37 points in 2011-12, his second season with Jokerit Helsinki of SM Liiga in Finland. He has 25 goals and 59 assists in 126 games overall.

The Red Wings were fortunate to have Pulkkinen slide down to them in the fourth round. Many analysts expected him to taken much higher heading into his draft year.

“He had a tough year, a lot of injuries, didn’t have a good year because of that,’’ Nill said. “He bounced back the following year. We’re excited about him,’‘

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Ducksworth's avatar

Sweet, looking forward to see how he performs here in North America. This guy could end up being a steal for being drafted in the fourth round.

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 05/29/12 at 06:23 PM ET

Chris in Hockey Hell's avatar

5’ 10” almost 200? Sounds like a fireplug.

Posted by Chris in Hockey Hell from Ann Arbor, MI but LIVING in Columbia, TN on 05/29/12 at 06:48 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

From eliteprospects.com:

“A very offensive and creative winger. Has good hands and is a natural goal scorer. A sniper with good playmaking. Needs to improve his defensive game.”

From hockeysfuture.com:

Talent Analysis
Has first-class, high end talent. Pulkkinen possesses a very dangerous shot, as it is both heavy and accurate. He also has a very quick release. He also has some playmaking skills. Not the best skater in the world, but makes up for it with his ability to hang onto the puck.

Projects as a scoring first or second line sniper.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 05/29/12 at 07:19 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Here’s a really in-depth profile from thehockeywriters.com:

It’s like Teemu Pulkkinen was born with ice skates on.  He’s been described as “deceptively fast” and dictates the pace of the game with his speed.

Teemu scored 36 goals in 32 games his first year for Jokerit, at the young age of 16. In the medal-round game of the U18 Championships he didn’t even have to make a move to distract the Canadian goalie.  His release is like rapid fire with a hard, accurate shot that finds the back of nets regularly.

Teemu is strong to the puck and comfortable with possession, which combined with his skating ability can make even the best defenders look foolish.  With his head always up and skates constantly in motion, he can carry a play and visualize the ice like a chess board.

The winger has no problem playing keep-away while he waits for an opportunity to pass or shoot.  His 24 assists proves he doesn’t mind being a setup man, either.  He can deliver the puck to an open man with accuracy and timeliness, which is essential in the NHL.

This is a sore spot for the 18 year old.  He doesn’t take many penalties, he’s not very big (5’10, 171lbs) and does struggle in the defensive zone, especially 5 on 5, which is going to have to be addressed by any team that makes a roster spot for him.

It’s clear that Teemu love to play hockey.  He cheers with enthusiasm after every goal.  His passion for the game will drive him and he will learn the ins and outs of the NHL game, and be an impact player eventually.

He’s young and fun to watch.  He need to put on some weight and get a full injury-free season of experience – like in an AHL level – before he hits the NHL ice.  Pulkkinen will make an NHL impact, but not till a healthy season behind him.  Pulkkinen is not NHL ready immediately.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 05/29/12 at 07:20 PM ET


There, Pulkkinen, a 5-foot-10, 198-pound right wing, collected 35 goals and 59 assists in 126 games.

Pulkkinen (5-foot-10, 194) will join the Red Wings at training camp

OK, he is ready. Bring the kid over now, not in five years’ time, and let him learn the NHL game from within before his learning ability will have withered away in AHL.

Posted by Alex on 05/29/12 at 07:41 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

He’s 5-10, 171, or 200 pounds, born with skates on, but is not a great skater, who is deceptively fast.

The one thing they agree on is a quick, hard accurate shot who can score and loves to score.  That is an attitude we desperately need.

Defense, he can learn when it’s team emphasized.  If for some reason he doesn’t he won’t have a long career with Detroit.

Posted by RWBill on 05/29/12 at 08:36 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

And, thanks for the report Red Winger.

Posted by RWBill on 05/29/12 at 08:37 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Each of those reports came out at different times. I was hoping between the three we could get a general view of him as a player.

Kind of like Rotten Tomatoes with movies. smile

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 05/29/12 at 08:52 PM ET

BrendonTO's avatar

I recall hearing that he was neck-and-neck to go #1 overall a year or so before his draft year, but an injury caused his stock to fall way down, despite the fact that he still possesssed that level of talent.  Of all the DRW steals in the draft, if this works out it may go down as the second or third best late pick they’ve ever had (Lidas wasnt really late, but to me he’s their biggest steal hands-down, with Pav close behind).  What I like is these young guys - Teemu, Calle, Tatar, Jurco - all seem to step it up in big games, whether it be the playoffs in Europe, the Memorial Cup or the World Junior and World Championships.  And to think that Nyquist will almost certainly be on the team next year.  Future’s looking bright!  This is the definition of ‘re-tooling’ rather than re-building.  For once I dont expect to see a drop-off in forward talent as Pav and Z get close to retirement.  If anything our forwards will be better 4-5 years from now compared to the lineup today.

Posted by BrendonTO on 05/29/12 at 08:52 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

From what I’ve heard, he’s short, he’s tubby, and he can be a bit of a wanderer, but he does have a fantastic shot and gets Hull-like complements because in what few clips of him I’ve been able to see, he tends to lurk in “stealth mode” and pop up in prime spots to take hard, fast one-timers.

Like Hull, he can be a little moody, but he is very enthusiastic, and when you’re playing for Jokerit…They and IFK Helsinki are big-market teams with big budgets, star-studded rosters and in Jokerit’s case, fantastic management in former Blues assistant GM Jarmo Kekalainen, who runs the ship, and Ari Vouri, the Wings’ chief Finnish scout…

So the expectations are always high for Jokerit, and Pulkkinen has generally delivered. He had a rough second half to his 11-12 season, and that’s why he didn’t make the Worlds cut, but his potential is very high.

The Wings can’t bring him over as the new wrinkle in the NHL’s transfer agreements with Sweden and Finland prohibits teams from bringing 18-20-year-olds over unless they make teams’ NHL rosters, but if the Wings could bring him over, I’m sure they would as he’s going to need to put more muscle on his bones and will need to adjust to the smaller ice surface.

All of that being said, you’re looking at a 20+ goal scorer in the making, and in this day and age, those players are incredibly, incredibly difficult to find. The only reason he slipped to the Wings is that he blew out his shoulder during his draft year, but as we’ve learned over the past two years, he’s recovered from that injury just fine.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/29/12 at 09:14 PM ET

RWBill's avatar

I hope somewhere in here is a combination that will ascend to and be NHL elite to move into a future vacuum to replace Z and Dats, although that should be 8 years down the road.

Posted by RWBill on 05/29/12 at 09:28 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Jarnkrok is ready—already—to be given the role Datsyuk and Zetterberg were as a 3rd/4th line player who will spend a year or two adjusting to playing against bigger, stronger players on smaller ice and will then start blossoming into a scorer. He “got it” playing alongside Silfverberg and Daniel Alfredsson at the Worlds, and his hockey IQ is just off the scale.

Pulkkinen will probably need a year in the AHL to adjust, but then he’ll be good to go, too.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/29/12 at 09:40 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Of all the DRW steals in the draft, if this works out it may go down as the second or third best late pick they’ve ever had (Lidas wasnt really late, but to me he’s their biggest steal hands-down, with Pav close behind).

I think it’s a pretty egregious case of putting the cart before the horse when anyone says a prospect has a chance of going down as being a better steal than a Conn Smythe winner who shows up for the playoffs year in, year out, and has outscored Datsyuk in the playoffs 5 out of the last six years, and who will likely be the next captain of the team.

Come on, guys.  I know it’s the summer, but let’s at least attempt to have some perspective.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 05/30/12 at 02:29 AM ET

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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.


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