Wings Prospect Report: Jarnkrok Edition

Calle "Ironhook" Jarnkrok - Jennifer Leigh Photography www.jenniferleighphoto.com

I've attended several Griffins games this season and have observed, evaluate, taken notes on, and and watched the growth of the prospects playing there. This is part 1 of my evaluation.

Calle "Ironhook" Jarnkrok (KAL-lee YAHRN-krook)

Drafted with Detroit's 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft (52st overall).

5'11"-6'0"(depending on who you believe) 176#

Center, but also plays wing effectively. Shoots right

From Gavle, Sweden

In '10-'11 he was Swedish Elite League rookie of the year nominee and The Hockey News Future Watch's 41st best NHl prospect.

In '11-'12 he was The Hockey News Future Watch's 32nd best NHL prospect

Corey Pronman ranked Jarnkrok just below Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith on Wings prospect depth chart prior to the start of the 2012-2013 season.

In his 9 games in Grand Rapids, he also had 10 SOG, was a +2 and 2 of his assists came on the powerplay

Jarnkrok may be listed as 6' 176#, but he looks smaller than I expected and plays smaller than his size suggests. He shied away from contact a bit, but part of that was because he was chasing a lot and was frequently behind the play and trying to catch up. It was clear he wasn't used to the size and speed of the AHL.

He's a very smooth skater, and has great mobility and impressive speed. He's very comfortable skating and it appears effortless and silky smooth. Watching his first few strides from takeoff was a bit like watching Zetterberg skate, his gait was eerily similar. He was all over the ice and his speed, mobility, and smooth skating were fun to watch and will definitely be a great asset for him.

Despite the fact that Jarnkrok didn't have the puck a lot, his positioning was very solid. He was smart (and quick) about backchecking when necessary, and even though he wasn't in sync with the game speed yet, he wasn't a defensive liability; that speaks volumes about his hockey sense. The puck wasn't following him much at all, which was a little surprising given that one of the big positives touted about him is that he has great puck control, can hand on to it for extended periods of time, and is a skilled playmaker. Unfortunately I didn't get to see a lot of these skills on display, but I'm confident that as he adjusts, his skills will translate to the AHL and NHL wonderfully.

The first night I watched him, he was mostly on a line with Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar, and played on the second powerplay unit. On the second night of back to back games, he was playing with several different line combinations, but got a bit of his playing time with Ferraro and Jurco, but didn't see much (if any) powerplay time. Part of that may have been because the game Saturday night was a very physical game that included 3 fights, a lot of hard hits, aggressive negotiations, and some not so clean play; even the the coaches got in on the arguing and threats/challenges were issued. I definitely don't think Jarnkrok being taken off the powerplay had anything to do with his play, but rather to protect/shelter him and play him with different lines and in different situations to give him more experience.

Ironhook played 9 games with the Griffins and registered 3 assists, but despite his lack of prominence on the stats sheets, he had a lot of opportunities and was creating chances for the Griffins. Had he been able to adjust quicker to the size and speed of the game, he would have had at least several goals and a few more assists. I wish he could have stayed and played in the playoffs with the Griffins because the experience would have gone a long way in helping him adjust and prepare for the North American style, size, and speed.

I was very happy to see that whenever he was on the ice he was skating hard, working hard, and hustling. It didn't matter who he was playing with, or what situation he was in, he was giving a full effort every shift and his work ethic and determination were impeccable. He went to the net, followed through on his chances, and never gave up, slowed down, or quit. Given the fact that he wasn't up to speed with the game yet, and was often a few steps behind the play, it would have been easy for him to get frustrated and maybe give less than 100% effort, but he went balls to the walls all shift, every shift. I can't wait to see him in camp this Fall. He's very skilled, a great skater, and has a strong work ethic.

Jarnkrok will be in training camp this fall and if he doesn't make the team, he'll play in Grand Rapids next year. He needs to increase his size and strength considerably, and will still need some time to get up to speed with the AHL/NHL. From what I've seen so far, I expect him to be in Grand Rapids next year. His skills are definitely there and he just needs a little growth and adjustment, which is to be expected. If he can come in to training camp in July bigger, stronger, and use his experience in the AHL to adjust and better prepare, I think he will (and probably should) start in Grand Rapids next year, but if he adjusts quickly, could be a top contender for a call up to the Wings.

Jarnkrok said adjusting to the smaller ice size, bigger players, and more physical style was harder than he thought it would be, but he felt better and better each game. He also said that he knows getting bigger and putting on muscle is the biggest areas he needs to focus on over the summer. With his dedicated work ethic, I'm confident he'll work hard to ensure Red Wings management have some tough decisions to make next year.

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