When last we spoke of former AHL scoring dynamo and struggling-to-establish-himself NHLer Teemu Pulkkinen, it was because of a report that he had undergone shoulder surgery that would sideline him for 4-6 months. Pulkkinen had the surgery on a previously-injured shoulder in early June. Working on the math from there, that would set his return anywhere from early October to December.
Today, Pulkkinen spoke with the press gathered at the Joe for more informal skates before training camp opens this Friday and said he’s been cleared for contact
Pulkkinen not only says he’s been cleared for contact, but that he’s looking forward to hopefully getting into a couple preseason games for the Wings. When asked if he was ahead of schedule, he didn’t go that far, but did say he feels pretty good right now.
As far as what it means for the Wings, I’m not sure I’d be willing to say Pulkkinen is currently competing for a spot right out of camp and think it’s probably more likely he doesn’t get into games for the first couple weeks of the season, but we shouldn’t exactly rule that out. As it stands right now, Pulkkinen doesn’t necessarily have a guaranteed job with the team anyway.
What does work in Pulkkinen’s favor is his waiver eligibility, where he can’t simply be sent down to Grand Rapids like Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha without first being exposed to waivers. Pulkkinen signed a one-year deal for $812,500 with the Red Wings this summer which will leave him as an RFA at the contract’s expiration. It will be interesting to see if the booming slapshot returns and if the team can find ways to make better use of it when he’s fully healthy again.