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The Malik Report

Red Wings pre-practice chatter: on Jarnkrok and a ‘deadline’ of a different sort

The Red Wings will hit the ice for practice at Joe Louis Arena shortly, then pack up their gear and head to Calgary for a must-win-game against the Flames, and after regrouping with an "off day" on Thursday, the team will prepare for a rather vicious 5-games-in-8-nights slate that's highly likely to determine whether the Wings make the playoffs.

This morning, MLive's Ansar Khan penned an "empty-the-notebook" article that is more than worth reading, and it's about the Wings prospect that most excites me in Calle Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok registered 3 assists in 9 games played for the Grand Rapids Griffins before the Wings had to return him to Sweden so that he could play in the World Championships, and all reports and pictures indicated that the super-skinny prospect is still a bit short of 170 pounds (he's a lanky 5'11"), but his skill level is just absolutely top-flight in terms of skating, playmaking, defensive savvy and plain old generating offense while not doing so at the expense of his defensive game.

When Jarnkrok (and Tomas Jurco) visited the Red Wings last Thursday, DetroitRedWings.com's Bill Roose and Khan interviewed Jarnkrok, and here's what he had to say to Khan about the lessons learned during his "grand tour":

“I think I have to work on everything, but I think I need to work on my strength to be bigger and put some muscle on,'' Jarnkrok said. “I think that’s the biggest thing for me right now and this summer.”

The 6-foot, 176-pound highly skilled center had no goals and three assists in nine games for the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins before returning to Sweden to prepare for the World Championships.

As with all Europeans, his biggest adjustment was the smaller ice surface and more physical style.

“It was a little bit harder than I thought it would be,'' Jarnkrok, 21, said. “It was getting better and better for each game, so I feel good about it. I expected smaller ice and bigger players, so I expected it to be pretty tough for me. It was, but I think I figured it out and it’s getting better and better for each game.”

Jarnkrok registered 13 goals, 29 assists and 42 points over the course of 53 games played for Brynas IF in the Swedish Eliteserien, and the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation forbade him from playing in any NHL games because they expect Jarnkrok to play a starring role at the World Championships (Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland are co-hosting the event, with Stockholm hosting the medal rounds in the second and final year of the profitable partnership), and one of Sweden's ambassadors for the Worlds told Khan that he believes Jarnkrok's ready to make the jump to North American hockey on a full-time basis next season (the Wings aren't sure if they want Jarnkrok to play in the AHL, but he was loaned to Brynas this past season, and the club expects the Wings to bring him over to Grand Rapids or Detroit, so there are no issues to iron out there):

“He's a very shifty guy, he's quick, he's got quick hands, he sees the ice very well,'' [Nicklas] Lidstrom said. “He's got real good hockey sense. He needs to get stronger and get used to playing on this ice surface, but he's got a lot of potential.''

Many have likened Jarnkrok's style to current Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg.

“You do see a lot of similarities to how Hank plays,'' Lidstrom said. “He's got that ability to hang onto the puck and not throw it away unless he has to. He can hold off guys and make that play when there's an opening and wait for that opening, too. I think he's ready for the next level and see how quick he can adapt to playing on smaller rinks with faster guys.''

Jonathan Ericsson delivered similarly eye-opening comments about Jarnkrok's playmaking, but I can't quote his entire article....

Otherwise, the Hockey News's Rory Boylen penned a list of power rankings, and here's his take on the state of the Wings...

16. Detroit Red Wings [last week] 13 [record] 20-15-7 [last ten] 4-4-2: Since beating Anaheim in back-to-back game in late March, the Wings have played against teams in a playoff position five times, going 0-3-2.

Um, yay Calgary on Wednesday?

And, via RedWingsFeed, Novi High School student Matt Hawkins penned a pre-trade deadline Q and A with Ken Holland that was featured in USA Today, and the Novi Patch's Aysha Jamali interviewed Hawkins about Hawkins' experiences in terms of the process of interviewing and then incredibly quickly recapping his chat with Holland:

Hawkins knows everything about the Red Wings and plays himself for Novi Wild prep hockey, which won the state championship. He said he was worried he wouldn't get to meet Holland because of the NHL lock out.

However, USA Today sports writer Kevin Allen arranged the interview on April 1.

"I didn't know I'd get to sit with him one-on-one for 30 minutes," he said. "He seemed plenty happy to talk to a high school kid."

After his interview, Allen told him he had 45 minutes to write the story. Hawkins hustled to the media room at Joe Louis to meet his deadline.

"It seems tough to write in such a short time. But you get a little rush," he said.

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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.