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The Future Saviors of Red Wings Past

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Let’s check in on 10 of those might have beens, flash in the pans, never weres, and trade-ins.

2010 NHL Draft Portraits Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

With all the talk of prospects during the offseason, how many times have you randomly remembered a name from the past and wondered “huh, wonder what they’re up to now,” but then decided you didn’t actually care enough to look it up?

Have no fear, I did care enough and am here to bring you the scoop!

So, let’s take a leisurely break from speculating on the future to look back at those players who come to mind every so often. Some you may still carry a torch for, some you may wish you could forget, and some you may not have known in the first place.

Grab a snack, settle in, and get your scroll on as we revisit these 10 ghosts of the past.

Who knows, you may even see that some treasure really was trash all along...

It’s the remix to ignition, Streak preserving edition, Kenny tradin’ those prospects, Got every fan in here bitchin’.

I’ll begin with three players who were plucked from the pipeline and traded in for a Seasoned Veteran. The purpose? Patching up whatever gaping hole Kenny was worried about and keeping the USS Playoff Streak floating into April.

Remember when everyone was always injured all the time for years, boy I sure do.

Calle “Ironhook” Järnkrok

Age: 26
Position: Center
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (51st overall, 2010)
Games in the Wheel: 0
What happened: The David Legwand Trade - March 5th, 2014
Current Team: Nashville Predators

The David Legwand trade is a sore spot for many fans, as this not only gave away Calle Järnkrok but also Patrick Eaves (and a draft pick). David Legwand, regardless of how you feel about that trade, was a valuable acquisition and did help out the team.

He also scored one of my favorite goals in recent history, especially because Mick is trying to be the voice of reason for once and Ken just steamrolls him.

While I personally think this trade is the best thing that could have happened for Järnkrok and Eaves, and that Detroit wasn’t the right fit for either of them (especially Eaves), Järnkrok is the one loss that probably burns fans the most.

Where is he now?

Järnkrok is partway through the six-year, $12M contract the Preds signed him to in July 2016. Last season, he scored a career high 16 goals along with having a career high 19 assists. He’s a big part of the Preds penalty kill, and in general the fans seem to think he’s doing a solid job for a fair price.

The length of the contract was initially a surprise, but looks like it’s turning out just fine all around.

Mattias “The Sleeper” Janmark

Age: 25
Position: Center
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (79th overall, 2013)
Games in the Wheel: 0
What happened: The Erik Cole Trade - March 1st, 2015
Current Team: Dallas Stars

Now, how about Erik Cole? If you remembered that both Mattias’s...Mattiases....Matti...existed (more on Backman up next), you may also remember Cole suffered a spinal contusion shortly about a month after joining the Red Wings and that was that.

It’s hard to believe Janmark only played 2 games for the Griffins, but despite any prospect hype, he didn’t have the chance to show us anything before he was lovingly booted to Dallas.

When he made his NHL debut in October with the Stars, he scored a goal.

On his first shift.

On his first shot.

Where is he now?

Janmark entered the offseason as an RFA and has been signed to a one-year, $2.5M deal to return to the Stars. He unfortunately missed all of 2016-2017 with a major knee-injury, but was ready to rock in 2017-2018, playing 81 games with 19 goals and 15 assists to command his new salary.

Mattias “Also Traded for Erik Cole” Bäckman

Age: 25
Position: Defense
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (145th overall, 2011)
Games in the Wheel: 0
What happened: The Erik Cole Trade - March 1st, 2015
Current Team: Linköpings HC

Erik Cole trade Part 2: Mattias Mania

Unlike Janmark, Bäckman played a whopping 20 games for the Griffins. Also unlike Janmark, Bäckman never cracked the NHL lineup for Dallas Stars and spent his time with the Texas Stars (and his last 5 games with the Hershey Bears).

Where is he now?

After two seasons in the AHL, Bäckman became a free agent in 2017 and signed a one-year deal with EHC Kloten of the National League in Switzerland. It looks like this season he’s heading back home to Sweden to join **OLD FRIEND ALERT** Jonas Gustavsson on Linköpings HC.

UR breaking my <3 :’-(

These players had their chances, and some fans thought they’d earned their spot and others shrugged and gazed into the void that is the pipeline. There was frustration all around with the ever-present logjam in Grand Rapids, and these two got caught in the middle.

Teemu “Lambikins” Pulkkinen: The PulkCannon of PulkkySunshine

Age: 26
Position: Left Wing
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (111th overall, 2010)
Games in the Wheel: 70
What happened: The Waive and Snatch - October 2016
Current Team: Dinamo Minsk (KHL)

The once and future holy slapper.

He tore up the universe in Grand Rapids and had some success with the Wings, but seemed caught in that purgatory of too good for the AHL but not quite keeping up in the NHL.

Pulkky is right up there with Jarnkrok in “one who got away” feelings, perhaps even worse as we’d gotten to know him and received nothing in return when he left. One day he was packing for Grand Rapids and the next day he was Minnesota bound.

The state of Hockey for Pulkkinen in the State of Hockey? Not good. He played a little for the Wild, then was sent down to Iowa where he lead the team because again, too good for the AHL.

Despite his AHL dominance, he was placed on waivers by the Wild in February 2017 and traded to Arizona for “future considerations”. I don’t know what those considerations were, perhaps the consideration that Arizona should continue to have a hockey team.

In June 2017, Pulkky was grabbed up in the expansion draft to join the rag tag bunch of misfits called the Las Vegas Golden Knights. He was sent to the Chicago Wolves where he had 65 points in 75 games.

Where is he now?

He went RFA this summer from the Golden Knights, and hit pause on his NHL/AHL career for a one-year contract with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL on July 18, 2018. Will he return to North America? If he can’t earn a permanent roster spot at the NHL level, I wouldn’t expect him to hang around North America.

Perhaps he’ll leap that hurdle over this next season and come back a changed man, like when the person in the movie goes to the mysterious land to train before coming back to fight the thing and finding inner strength along the way.

And talking owls.

Tomas “Jurcules” Jurco

Age: 25
Position: Right Wing
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (35th overall, 2011)
Games in the Wheel: 159
What happened: Tradured to the Blackhawks - February 2017
Current Team: UFA

Jurco never found his scoring touch, whether that was due in part to the chronic line shuffling and roundtrips from Grand Rapids to Detroit we can only guess.

Many fans invested a lot of time and energy into speculating all the great things Jurco would do for the Wings and were somewhat scandalized and outraged when he was traded to Chicago for a 3rd-rounder in the 2017 draft.

However, he is the one who requested a trade, seemingly fed up with floating in limbo with the Wings. With the Blackhawks having already been eyeing Jurco, along with his Wings contract ending anyway, it seemed like the right move for everybody.

To his detriment, he never really got going for the Blackhawks either. He just kinda...fizzled. He had a solid time with the Rockford IceHogs with 25 points in 36 games last year and in his 29 games with the Blackhawks had 6 goals and 4 assists.

Not terrible, at least not by our generally low standards of production, but not nearly enough for the Hawks to keep him around.

Where is he now?

He’s floating around the universe as a UFA right now, and I’m guessing he jumps over to the KHL next season but haven’t seen any rumors mentioning his future plans.

Won the trade...too soon for any of you?

Joakim “Joker” Andersson

Ok, nobody was really heralding him as anything but he still gets at least a quick update. Can you believe he was drafted over a decade ago?

Age: 29
Position: Center
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (88th overall, 2007)
Games in the Wheel: 205
What happened: Contract End and Bounce - April 2016
Current Team: Örebro HK (SHL)

Andersson is somehow both memorable and not memorable. You remember he existed, but you don’t really remember what he did or if he was good. You’re pretty sure he wasn’t bad, and he wasn’t a huge goal scorer...or assist machine...he was just kinda...there.

Where is he now?

When his contract ended with the Wings after the 2015-2016 season, and since he’d been bouncing between the Wings and the Griffins anyway, he quietly disappeared back to Europe to play with Örebro HK of the Swedish hockey league.

Was President Lincoln okay? He was fine. Go home Ralph.

I wouldn’t say any of these were hailed as future saviors, but two of them were drafted very high - especially irritating considering we haven’t exactly been flush with first-round picks until just now.

Let’s reminisce about a number of defenseman we ever so politely showed to the door. Considering the state of our defense now, were they really that much worse? Did they find greener pastures or did they end up at a farm upstate?

Almost makes you miss legendary Hockeytown heroes Brett Lebda and Derek Meech.

Almost.

Brendan “I almost fought Chara that time” Smith

Good old Brendan Smith. Remember all those penalties? Remember that time he swatted an in-play puck from the bench for no apparent reason?

Age: 29
Position: Local Idiot
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (27th overall, 2007)...ouch
Games in the Wheel: 291
What happened: Tradured to New York Rangers - February 2017
Current Team: New York Rangers (Hartford Wolf Pack)

He was bad. Frequently. Most of the time. We were glad to get a 2nd and 3rd rounder for him. One of our 2nd rounders this year is because of him, and I believe it was Jonatan Berggren.

I’m not sure who the 3rd rounder in 2017 was, but it would have been one of Kotkansalo (71), Zablocki (79), Gallant (83), or Petruzzelli (88). I don’t remember if we were flipping picks and whatnot, but those were our guys in the end.

Where is he now?

This is all you need to know: The Rangers placed Smith on waivers on Feb. 8, 2018 (his birthday) and sent him to Hartford. He almost immediately broke his hand in a fight with a teammate (Vinni Lettieri) during practice, which ended his season.

Alexey “Grumpy Cat” Marchenko

He never smiled. I don’t know if he can. Any pictures with him smiling are fake.

Age: 26
Position: Eeyore
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (205th overall, 2011)
Games in the Wheel: 110
What happened: Waive and Snatch - February 2017
Current Team: CSKA Moscow (KHL)

He was ok. Sometimes good, but also our defense was SO BAD that the bar was quite low. Not a points machine by any stretch of the imagination, but you never really had to worry about him. He spent his share of time in the Leino Lounge, and Mike Babcock grabbed him up when we put him on waivers in February 2017.

In March, he scored his only goal of 2016-2017 season.

Against the Red Wings.

Rude.

Where is he now?

He was placed on waivers by the Leafs and released from the final year of his contract during the 2017 offseason as he had every intention of returning to Russia and it made sense to let him go.

He’s playing with Nikita Nesterov if you remember him from the Bolts.

Jakub “Mr. Former Miss Universe” Kindl

Age: 31
Position: Adorable Scapegoat
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (19th overall, 2005)...oh my goooood
Games in the Wheel: 273
What happened: Tradured to the Florida Panthers - February 2016
Current Team: Plzeň of the Czech Extraliga

We got a 6th round pick in the 2017 draft for him. And it was fine. He was just....so bad for us. Everything just didn’t work. He might not look so bad now, and I guess he’s practically a baby compared to the current crop of D-men.

Don’t get any ideas Kenny, Kindl is perfectly happy where he is.

Where is he now?

After his contract ended with the Panthers, he went home to sign a one-year deal with Plzeň of the Czech Extraliga. All signs point to him signing another contract with them.

And congratulations are in order, as Kindl just married Aferdita Dreshaj, Former Miss Kosovo and Miss Universe. They had their wedding in Miami Beach this past June.

I hope there were some Red Wings there too.

In striped bathing costumes.

Ryan “The Bridesmaid” Sproul

Age: 25
Position: 3rd in line behind Jensen and XO
Origin story: Drafted by Wings (55th overall, 2010)
Games in the Wheel: 28
What happened: Tradured to the New York Rangers- October 2017
Current Team: Free Agent

It’s kinda funny we got the Rangers to take Smith the year after we got them to take Sproul off our hands, because Sproul never reached his potential either. He’s not old, a fetus compared to our current roster, so maybe his best years are ahead of him.

Sproul got quite a lot of hype going into 2016-2017, that was going to be “his year” and then Nick Jensen just walked in out of nowhere and was good and also completely forgettable. That’s how good he was, you didn’t even remember him because he didn’t do anything to make you mad like all the other guys.

Think the Rangers would take DeKeyser’s contract in February?

Where is he now?

No idea what his future plans are, he went to a Kenny Chesney concert in late July so that’s something I guess. His avi is still him in a Rangers jersey and he has no bio, give us something Sproully, come on.

Breakfast Club Fist Raised For Entirely Too Long

Bonus round! We’ll close with a short roundup of five middle age children and two old GOATs.

Jan “Sak Attack” Mursak

Remember that time he broke his leg during a game and they showed it 100 times in slow motion and it was horrifying? Well, this 30 year-old center is signed on to play with SC Bern (NL) next season with **OLD FRIEND ALERT** Adam Almqvist

Adam “AA Classic” Almqvist

At the ripe old age of 27, far too old to play defense anywhere, Almqvist got two games in the Winged Wheel and wasn’t re-signed after his entry-level contract was up. He headed over to the KHL and now he will join the aforementioned Jan Mursak with SC Bern in Switzerland.

Landon “Ferrari” Ferraro

Another center! For a team that always complains of being short on centers we sure have gotten rid of a bunch. We put him on waivers and he was claimed by Boston, and now he’s under contract with the Wild.

The More You Know: Tony Granato is kind of his uncle. Ray Ferraro’s second wife is Tony Granato’s sister, Cammi.

Andrej “Nasal Spray” Nestrasil

Another elderly 27 year old, this winger had about a dozen games with the Wings before being placed on waivers and off to the Canes he went. HE HATED IT. He went to the KHL at the end of the 2017 season and will be playing with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk again next season.

Cory “Glitter Crayons” Emmerton

He and Mike Commodore had a fun dynamic during whatever season that was they were both here. 2012ish? After the 2013-2014 season Emmerton signed his first European contract to play with HC Sochi of the KHL.

He tweeted in July that he signed with HC Sibir Novosibirsk for next season. He’s 30 now, like a real adult.

Clearance sale, all centers must go!

Drew “Silver Fox” Miller

How can you not love Drew Miller? Even if he won’t go dye his hair. He was always there for us, wherever we needed him, chipping in on the bottom lines. So reliable, and very nimble for a veteran of the Battle of Kadesh.

He came home with scars, very heroic. 34 years old? You’re not fooling anyone.

Last I heard about him was when he went to the Blackhawks for a professional tryout and then, since that didn’t work, he signed with Brynäs IF (SHL). Not sure if he’ll play with them next season or if he’ll hang ‘em up for good.

Kyle “Bagels, whom I love” Quincey

Last, and most, let’s check in on beloved folk hero, Kyle Quincey. Quincey was, at times, incredibly terrible in an almost beautiful way. He also had stretches where he was better than anyone would give him credit for.

Except me. I found new defensemen to get mad at.

He got around in his career - Wings, Kings, Avs, Devils, Jackets, and Wild. The Wild assigned him to Iowa last season and he refused to report, nobody has seen him since.

But he lives on in our hearts.

Toast a bagel, respect.

Who else is on your mind?

I’m sure you were all dying for an update on Tomas Kopecky but I’ve given you too much to read already. Give us an update in the comments on any other players who you randomly remembered, and maybe even show that Ken Holland made a smart decision.

Let’s Go Red Wings!