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Pulkkinen to make debut for injured Wings

by Bill Roose / Detroit Red Wings
Teemu Pulkkinen is having an outstanding AHL rookie season, leading the Griffins in scoring with 51 points in 60 games. (Photo by Grand Rapids Griffins)

DETROIT – The Red Wings will get a look at another young minor-league prospect Friday when Teemu Pulkkinen is likely to make his NHL debut against the Edmonton Oilers at Joe Louis Arena.

Calling up Pulkkinen from Grand Rapids in the American Hockey League was necessary after the Red Wings learned that Tomas Jurco will be sidelined by a rib injury for 10-14 days.

The 22-year-old Pulkkinen will become the fifth Red Wings’ rookie to make his league debut this year, and ninth in the last two seasons.

Detroit’s fourth-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft, Pulkkinen is the Griffins’ leading scorer and ranks second among AHL rookies with 51 points in 60 games this season. The Finnish winger also leads league rookies in goals (26), shots (175) and plus/minus rating (20). As a rookie in the Finnish Elite League three years ago, he set the record for assists by a rookie (36 with Jokerit in 2010-11).

In September, Pulkkinen was assessed a major penalty for boarding Chicago defenseman Michael Kostka in a preseason game. Pulkkinen also served a four-game suspension for the illegal hit, which occurred on his first-ever NHL shift.

“Since then, as guys got called up from Grand Rapids to Detroit he has become the go-to guy,” said Jiri Fischer, the Red Wings’ director of player development. “Every game he plays, he is dangerous. Every team Grand Rapids plays against, they talk about him in their pre-game meetings. He's got a very dangerous shot; he's got a lot of confidence to shoot the puck.”

Pulkkinen was called up last month to give the Red Wings enough bodies to hold practices during the Olympic break while a third of the team was still in Sochi, Russia.

“I like to shoot the puck, I like offensive game, try to make plays and shoot the puck,” Pulkkinen said in February. “That’s how I try to help the team.”

Jurco was injured during the second period of the Wings’ 4-1 loss at Columbus when he was deliberately cross-checked in the midsection by Blue Jackets forward Blake Comeau. Jurco did not play the third period of Tuesday’s game at Nationwide Arena.

On Wednesday, the league's department of player safety levied a two-game suspension on Comeau for his first-period illegal hit from behind on Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith.

“He just hit me kind of hard. It was really sore,” Jurco said. “I didn’t think it would be good idea to skate around the ice, play at 50 percent. I couldn’t battle anymore for pucks, so I decided it would help team more (to sit out) than me just skating around and not doing anything.”

“It’s been fun. I was here (Grand Rapids) last year, I got to know the guys and the coaches, what the game is, what it’s all about. It’s been great time. I’ve enjoyed it.”

Jurco joins a growing list of injured Red Wings that includes forwards Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Darren Helm (upper body), Daniel Cleary (knee) and Stephen Weiss (groin) and goalie Jonas Gustavsson (groin) whose status is day to day. Captain Henrik Zetterberg (back), center Joakim Andersson (broken foot) and forward Mikael Samuelsson (shoulder) are out.

Follow Bill Roose on Twitter | @Bill_Roose

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