DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today assigned left wing Teemu Pulkkinen to the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Pulkkinen, 23, has skated in six games with the Red Wings this season and tallied his first NHL goal last night, scoring the game's first goal during Detroit's 5-4 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild. In nine total games with the club over the past two seasons, he has recorded one point (1-0-1), four penalty minutes and 14 shots on goal. Pulkkinen also leads the Griffins with 39 points (20-19-39) in 33 games this season and was tied for first in the AHL in goals and for second on points at the time of his recall on Jan. 8. He remains fourth in the league in scoring, and is currently on an AHL season-best eight-game goal streak, matching the Griffins' franchise record set by Donald MacLean in 2005-06. The Griffins play home games tonight (Chicago Wolves) and Friday (Utica Comets) before Pulkkinen represents the club in the AHL All-Star Skills Competition on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 8 p.m. and the AHL All-Star Classic on Monday, Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. in Utica, N.Y.
A native of Vantaa, Finland, Pulkkinen led the Griffins in 2013-14 with 59 points (31-28-59) in 71 games, setting the franchise record for goals by a rookie. In 106 career regular-season AHL games since 2012-13, he has registered 99 points (51-48-99) and 56 penalty minutes, adding 16 points (8-8-16) in 24 postseason games. Originally drafted by Detroit in the fourth round (111th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Pulkkinen spent parts of five seasons with Jokerit in Finland's top professional league prior to coming to North America, totaling 128 points (49-79-128) and 134 penalty minutes from 2008-13.
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Congrats on your first NHL goal*, kid! Now get out!
Ok, that's not exactly what's happening. The diggers reported last night that Pulkkinen was being reassigned so that he could play in the AHL All-Star game festivities on Sunday and Monday in Utica. Pulkkinen was named to the AHL All-Star Team recently and, with the Red Wings dormant until Tuesday thanks to the NHL All-Star break, they didn't need him to hang around.
Other reports say that Xavier Ouellet, who was also named to the AHL's ASG won't be making the same trip. Apparently, he'll be resting a sore wrist during this time.
What we haven't seen from any of the diggers just yet is what is the plan coming out of both the NHL and AHL all-star breaks. Pulkkinen will be playing for the AHL team on Monday night and the Wings' next game is on Tuesday in Florida. I don't know their travel schedule yet, but I think they're planning on going before then. If I were a gambling man, I'd say Pulkkinen isn't likely to be rejoining the team for their two-game Florida trip next week.
If that's the case, then it means the Wings are either going to let Dan Cleary back in the lineup or they're going to welcome back either Johan Franzen (concussion) or Tomas Jurco (back). The latest reports on both of them have late January as the rough return date, so we'll see which one (if not both) will be stepping onto the ice against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
*(you can watch the Holy Slapper in action here)