Tuesday, September 15, 2015 - Updated: 11:47 am
Teemu Pulkkinen is tearing it up in the AHL.
Twenty-seven goals in 41 AHL games — just one year after amassing 31 goals in 71 games is undeniably impressive and it’s no wonder some people see those numbers and immediately demand Pulkkinen be shipped to Detroit.
Wicked Brett Hull-like shot, feisty on the puck, and he’ll fire it from anywhere. What’s not to like? Plus, we just saw similar circumstances with Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist and those guys came up and made an immediate impact! What’s the hold up?
Well, the circumstances have changed.
Last season when Tatar and Nyquist arrived; Red Wings corner stones Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg played just a little more than half a season each. As you can imagine; that left a lot of prime ice time up for grabs that wouldn’t normally be available. Tatar and Nyquist fought their way into those minutes, took advantage (to say the least), and have parlayed those opportunities into being featured players on the power play and in critical minutes.
This season the Wings have been lucky enough to have Datsyuk and Zetterberg healthy, for the most part, and Tatar and Nyquist have proved last year was no fluke, posting impressive numbers for any Red Wing, let alone 2nd-year players.
So with those four healthy, where would you put Pulkkinen and with what minutes in desirable situations can you provide him?
Since when do the Wings not need goal scoring Depth?
Goal scoring depth hasn’t been the issue it has been the last few seasons. Justin Abdelkader has found a way to put 12 goals in, and for all the grief I give Darren Helm and his gargoyle hands, he’s managed to bury 11 goals. Quietly Riley Sheahan is putting together another solid season as well. While not as flashy as Pulkkinen, those guys are versatile enough to make taking minutes away from them (and giving them to Pulkkinen) an uphill battle.
He’s right-handed, How about the power play?
Despite the temptation of adding a big right-hand shot to the power-play the Red Wings Power Play is humming along at a best-in-the-league 25.5%. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. There have been some tweaks regarding the warm body that stands in front of the net, but that’s not where you want a guy like Pulkkinen anyway.
You know Luke Glendening is playing on a line with Weiss and Sheahan, right?
The best argument for him is the 3rd line with Sheahan and Weiss. Right now Glendening is occupying that spot, and while that sounds like an obvious weak spot on a 3rd-line scoring threesome, Glendening has 3 goals in 5 games and plays a valuable role on a very up-and-down penalty kill. Weiss hasn’t been lighting the world on fire as of late either, but he and Sheahan look to be developing a bit of a rapport.
Setting Pulkinnen up for success is in both party’s best interest.
With the machine humming along it’s hard to put a relative unknown in key situations when you’ve got so many reliable known commodities. I am excited to see Pulkinnen in a larger role and have every expectation that he’ll work out just fine. However, I don’t have a problem with the organization holding back the reigns on “the next big thing” while the Wings continue to thrive in the present.
In two weeks, this could all change, and it might be the right time. If that’s the case I’ll gladly support the #FreePulkkinen movement.
It’s not the time now though, even if Ken Daniels mentions Brett Hull 150 times in a broadcast