In 2008 the question on everyone’s mind regarding the 2010 NHL draft wasn’t Taylor vs Tyler, it was Taylor vs Teemu.
Teemu Pulkkinen is a Finnish born winger playing for Jokerit of the SM-Liiga. He has been described as a “pure sniper” with “a great shot” and a “great release”, compared to Jari Kurri, and widely considered a top-10 pick in the draft.
During the 2006-07 season Pulkkinen scored 90 points (47 goals, 43 assists) in 22 games while playing for Jokerit U-16 team. the next year he would put up 60 (36 goals, 24 assists) in 32 games with the U-18 team, leading the way to the Taylor vs Teemu debate.
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Lets jump into the DeLorean for a minute and go back to June 26th, 2010. The Detroit Red Wings are making the 111th selection in the 2010 draft, the player chosen is none other than Teemu Pulkkinen, not the 1st, not the 2nd, not even the 90th. How did the Red Wings, who seem to do this year after year with players like Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Holmstrom, Ericsson, and Helm pull off another draft day steal? Come on Marty, its time to go back to 2009.
Before the 2009-10 season started Pulkkinen spent the summer recovering from knee surgery. He would begin the season with Jokerit, playing in 12 games while only scoring 1 goal before breaking his wrist. Pulkkinen would rebound later in the year dominating the U-20 team with 41 points (20 goals, 21 assists) in 17 games. He won a bronze medal in the IIHF world under-18 championship, leading the tournament in scoring with 15 points (10 goals, 5 assists) in 6 games. Though the season ended well on the ice for Pulkkinen, off the ice he would undergo shoulder surgery that would sideline him for four and a half months.
Maybe it was the injuries, or the fact that he had still not performed at the elite level that led to his drop in draft value, but the Wings got a player with the potential to be an elite level star with very little risk.
Pulkkinen has yet to disappoint, making the collective brain trust that is the Wings front office look even better than they already did.
The 2010-11 season saw Pulkkinen shatter Teemu Selanne’s 20-year old record for assists by a rookie with 36 giving him 54 points in 55 games, good enough for 5th in the Finnish SM-Liiga’s scoring race. He also led the 6th place team Finland in scoring during the World Junior Championships with 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 6 games.
SCOUT COMMENTS “He loves to have the puck, he loves being on the power play,and he shoots the puck all the time. He’s like Jari Kurri. It’s a nice thing to say, but it’s true, and Jari Kurri wasn’t the fastest skater either … He’s a goal-scorer, which is really hard to find these days, but he can also make plays. He has a good shot and he’s so smart at finding openings.” — Red Wings scout Ari Vuori (June 2010).
STRENGTHS Described to The Hockey News by one scout as a “pure sniper” with “a great shot” and a “great release” … Loves to shoot … Has that dynamic feel as a right shot on the left wing, which opens him up for plenty of one-time opportunities … Absolutely lethal on the power play … Hockey sense is outstanding … Innate knack for finding the spots on the ice in a way not unlike Brett Hull or Jari Kurri … Underrated as a playmaker, as he has dished out some sweet feeds at the junior level.
WEAKNESSES Skating is either average or below average, depending on which scout you ask, but without a doubt he lacks the top gear required of smaller wingers … Skating and lack of size are a concerning combination … Criticized in his draft year for spending too much time on the perimeter.
PROJECTION A year before the 2010 NHL draft, many ranked Pulkkinen as a top-10 to -20 pick. For a variety of reasons, he was still available in the fourth round on draft day, and the Red Wings are reaping the rewards. When you’re breaking Teemu Selanne’s records as an 18-year-old, you’re doing something right. After a phenomenal freshman campaign in the Finnish SM-Liiga in 2010-11, it will be interesting to see what Pulkkinen has planned for an encore in 2011-12.
Mark down another one in the Wings win column. Teemu Pulkkinen lit up the WJC this year with team Finland scoring 6 goals and 4 assists in 6 games, he has also packed on the pounds listed now at 5’11, 198lbs.
40 goals? With this monster shot it’s a good bet.