Is Teemu Pulkkinen Ready For The NHL?
Fun fact: my phone's voice to text translation for "Teemu Pulkkinen" is "Teeny Pokemon".
Teemu Pulkkinen likes to score goals, lots of goals. The Red Wings have several very exciting forward prospects who are NHL ready (See: Jurco, Tomas) or are at least going to be ready soon (See: Mantha, Anthony) as well as several who are a little further away, so sometimes it's easy to leave Pulkkinen out of the "should he be called up" conversation. Teemu Pulkkinen isn't known for his stick handling skills, and he rarely dekes and dangles on the ice. What he is known for, is scoring goals. Goals are pretty good, in my opinion.
Last year in his rookie season with the Griffins, Pulkkinen
- Finished 4th in the AHL in regular season goals with 31, the league leader had 36.
- Finished 2nd in AHL regular season rookie scoring with 59 points, the league leader had 65.
- Finished 16th in the AHL in points and tied for 18th in the league in shots on goal
- In the regular season, he led the Griffins in goals (31), points (59) shots on goal (201), power play goals (9), and was 2nd on the team in +/- (+18) even though he spend a lot of time on the top PP unit.
- In the playoffs he tied Tomas Jurco for team lead in goals (5) and power play goals (2), led the team in points (11), shots on goal (28), and +/- (+8)
- Broke the Griffins' rookie goal scoring record.
In Europe he was probably the most widely known for his "Holy Slapper". In the 2013 playoffs when Pulkkinen came over to play in the AHL, he often employed the holy slapper; winding up big and taking an ungodly hard shot. On the smaller North American ice, and the faster paced game, that huge wind-up doesn't work as well as it did in Europe and so Teemu has adapted. There are still times when a big slap shot is appropriate and useful, but we've also seen a wider variety of shots from him that result in goals. His ability to score goals is amazing.
There are several aspects of Pulkkinen's abilities that make his goal scoring impressive. Why don't we take a look at all of Angus his goals last season and see exactly how he scored his goals. Here's the video I created with all of Pulkkinen's goals from last season, regular season and playoffs.
Pulkkinen certainly has "his" style that he plays, and he loves to take wristers and slappers from between the circles and blue line, and hey, what's not to love! His shot is so hard, so fast, and so accurate, that goalies often don't even have to time react before the puck is behind them. Sometimes when he shoots the puck it seems to go right through three or four players standing in front of it, past the goalie, and into a precise spot in the net. Did you notice how many times the puck went top corner with little room for error? That's a tough shot to make, yet Pulkkinen blasts it through multiple players at lightning speed and the goalies often don't even move to stop the puck at all because they don't see it coming. His shot is harder, faster, and more accurate than a lot of NHL'ers, and his ability to score goals from anywhere on the ice is a valuable commodity. Pulkkinen keeps is simple, shoots a LOT, and scores goals. He plays with energy and when he's on the ice you get the feeling that he might score at any second. He's exciting!
Griffins coach Jeff Blashill has said a lot of great things about Pulkkinen since he joined the team, including the following.
"Teemu is one of those guys where the puck seems to follow him around the ice … He finds a way to win puck battles. When he’s got the puck on his stick, he’s got a real weapon of a shot. Jeff Blashill (January 2014, GriffinsHockey.com)
"He can create something out of nothing. He can score goals from everywhere on the ice because he has an extremely dynamic shot - both his slap shot and his wrist shot. When goals are at such a premium in hockey, he's one of those few guys who only needs one chance to score. His shot is that good. The thing I like about Teemu is he wants to get better. He listens, and he's working at trying to get better. When he gets better (in the defensive zone), and when you have that ability to score ... Boy, you become a commodity in a hurry." - Blashill (February 2014)
"Teemu is a goal-scorer. He's somebody who can play average and still have an impact on the game by shooting one puck in the net. That's how good of a shot he has. Blashill (May 2014, foxsports.com).
Quotes taken from Red Wings Central
I don't know how much we'll see of Pulkkinen in Detroit this year, because Jurco should be on the team, but will have to settle for being the top call up. I think Anthony Mantha will start in Grand Rapids, but depending on how his transition goes, he may be second in line. I believe Pulkkinen will be pushing to be in the NHL very soon. He's improved in his defensive game a lot last year, and while I don't think he'll ever win the Selke, I don't care one iota. He can score all the goals his heart desires and let his line-mates watch his back a little. Watch out Detroit, Teemu is coming for YOU!