The Wild, looking to add NHL depth, claimed Detroit Red Wings right-shot winger Teemu Pulkkinen off waivers this morning.
Pulkkinen has been a big minor-league scorer who has yet to translate that to the NHL level. The 5-foot-10 Finn is not a fast skater, but he has got an exceptional shot. He has scored 11 NHL goals in 67 games over the past two seasons with Detroit after scoring 65 goals with AHL Grand Rapids the two years before that. That included a league-leading 34 goals and 61 points in 2014-15.
"I don’t know him, but from what I heard, and I phoned a couple people when I heard we were going to potentially get him, very high-skilled," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "[Assistant coach John Anderson] played against him a lot last year [Anderson coached Chicago of the AHL]. He says ... he can score, he’s got a tremendous shot. So we think it’s a good get and an inexpensive get."
Boudreau expects Pulkkinen to be the lineup right away and said "he's probably on the energy [fourth] line come Thursday because he doesn't really know anything we do and we probably do it different than Detroit does."
Pulkkinen was drafted 111th overall in the 2010 draft, giving the Wild five guys now on its roster from that draft (Granlund, Niederreiter, Coyle and Zucker).
Forward Christoph Bertschy was reassigned to Iowa. Goalie Alex Stalock cleared waivers and has been assigned to Iowa.
Pulkkinen's season last year was cut short by a dislocated shoulder. He also underwent surgery on the other shoulder this offseason.
"He’s a been a prolific goal-scorer at every level, in Finland growing up, and then throughout the junior ranks, and scored an awful lot of goals in the American Hockey League," Wild GM Chuck Fletcher said. "He hasn’t shown he can be that level of goal-scorer yet in the NHL. But that’s the upside and that’s the promise and that’s the risk we’re taking. It’s hard to score goals in this league and we just thought his talent was pretty high end and certainly worth the waiver claim. We’ll see how he fits in and we’ll hope that he can make that transition to score at the NHL level like he has at other levels."
Fletcher added that he and his staff were still debating whether to carry 12 or 13 forwards for the season opener, but they claimed Pulkkinen to play and will give him "every opportunity to be successful."
Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill was quoted by the Detroit News today, saying, "You come back off shoulder surgery and your tryout is three games, it’s not fair. It’s a hard business, but with that said, I have lots of belief in him.”
He added, "Teemu has to score goals. You hate to be results-oriented but when you’re not big and not fast and your weapon is your shot, you have to score goals.
“That’s what made him a difference maker at the American (Hockey) League level and I believe he can still be a difference maker at this level. That time just isn’t right now.”
Wild's lines in practice today: Parise-Staal-Coyle; Granlund-Koivu-Pominville; Niederreiter-Haula-Stewart; Zucker-Eriksson Ek-Bertschy;Dalpe extra
Defense: Suter-Spurgeon; Scandella-Dumba; Reilly-Brodin; Folin-Prosser extras