Wings’ Pulkkinen seeks chance to show skills

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — The circumstances are different but the expectations are largely the same for Teemu Pulkkinen.

He’s not returning to Grand Rapids, as Pulkkinen is out of minor-league options and he’d be exposed to waivers — and the Red Wings likely would lose him to another team, which they don’t want to do.

So Pulkkinen will stay with the Red Wings when the exhibition season ends. But it’s up to him to earn a spot in the lineup and show he can be an NHL player.

Which Pulkkinen believes he is, and capable of scoring goals, if given an opportunity.

“I just need a chance,” Pulkkinen said after a recent informal conditioning skate at Joe Louis Arena. “I’m in good shape. I can I can play in this league. It’s all about getting a chance.

“If I’m not going to start in the lineup, I have to work harder and that’s what I’ll do.”

Pulkkinen, 23, is still searching for his first extended chance in the NHL.

He played in 31 games with the Red Wings last season (three the season before), scoring eight points (five goals).

Pulkkinen has proven himself at the American League level. He scored 34 goals in only 46 games with the Griffins last season, then added 14 in only 16 playoff games as Grand Rapids reached the Western Conference Finals.

“I was playing a little smaller role here last year,” Pulkkinen said. “In Grand Rapids, I played a lot. It’s a different game when you play a lot. It’s easier when you get the ice time and every night you know you’re going to play a lot.

Pulkkinen understands a big factor in whether he’ll get ice time is whether he scores.

Possessing one of the hardest shots on the team — if not the hardest — Pulkkinen appears to be a player who could become dangerous on the power play, or be productive playing with a deft-passing center.

But he has to prove it.

“Like I said before, I just need the chance,” Pulkkinen said. “I know I can score in this league. It’s about me and I’m going to show that.

“If I score goals, I think I’m going to play. If I’m not scoring goals, I’m not going to play. I just have to go out there and get a couple of lucky ones at the start and just go.”

With new coach Jeff Blashill, who knows Pulkkinen well from Grand Rapids, there appears an opportunity for Pulkkinen to take advantage of the familiarity between the two.

“Maybe a little bit, but it’s not that big of a help,” Pulkkinen said. “He has a lot of good players here, he has a lot of depth and players to choose from, and it’s up to me whether I’m going to play.

“I have to work and show it on the ice, score goals and make plays and then I’ll get my chance.”

Starts soon

The Red Wings will have one more informal skate Tuesday before hitting the road for Traverse City and the start of training camp the following day.

Physicals and a charity golf outing are Thursday, before workouts and intrasquad scrimmages begin Friday and last through Monday.

Believe it or not, the Red Wings begin the exhibition season Sept. 22 in Chicago and the first exhibition home game is Sept. 23 against the Blackhawks.

Red Wings training camp

When: Friday through Monday

Where: Centre Ice Arena, Traverse City

Tickets: (231) 933-7465

Information: centreice.org

Friday

Team Delvecchio video/practices from 9:25 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Team Lindsay vs. Team Howe scrimmage 12:10 -12:35 p.m., in between workouts and video before and after.

Saturday

Team Howe video/practice 9:25 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Team Delvecchio vs. Team Lindsay 12:10-12:35 p.m. scrimmage, between workouts and video before and after.

Sunday

Team Lindsay video/practice 9:25 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Team Delvecchio vs. Team Howe: 12:10-12:35 p.m. scrimmage, in between workouts and video before and after.

Monday

Red & White Game noon, 2-3 p.m. off-ice workout.