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Red Wings put Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers

Ted Kulfan, The Detroit News
Teemu Pulkkinen

Detroit —Teemu Pulkkinen’s career with the Red Wings looks a bit murkier after Monday’s news he’s been placed on waivers.

Pullkkinen has until noon Tuesday to be claimed by another team.

Final rosters must be set by Tuesday at 5 p.m.

If Pulkkinen doesn’t get picked up by another team — prospect Martin Frk was grabbed Sunday by the Carolina Hurricanes — Pulkkinen will be sent down to Grand Rapids or remain on the Red Wings’ roster, either way giving the team roster flexibility in the future (by waiving Pulkkinen, the Red Wings can shuttle him between the NHL and AHL’s Grand Rapids while promoting players from the Griffins).

Coach Jeff Blashill said either Andreas Athanasiou or Anthony Mantha — both of whom are still exempt from waivers —will stick with the Red Wings to begin the regular season Thursday in Tampa Bay.

Athanasiou, who appeared in 37 regular season games last year and scored nine goals, would appear to have a slight edge over Mantha to remain with the Red Wings.

Pulkkinen, 24, had shoulder surgery over the summer and was limited in training camp, not playing until the final week of the exhibition season.

The Red Wings are hoping Pulkkinen — who declined to speak to reporters — clears waivers and goes down to Grand Rapids.

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“We hope he doesn’t get claimed and it would give him a chance to go down and play,” Blashill said. “He hasn’t played much over the last year. I don’t think his game is at where it will be once he gets playing again.

“If he’s able to clear and goes down to Grand Rapids, it would be a great thing for him. He’s excited about getting a chance to get playing so he can put his best foot forward.”

Last season in 36 games Pulkkinen had six goals and six assists for 12 points, his season cut short by a dislocated shoulder.

But the other shoulder required surgery in the summer, delaying Pulkkinen’s return to the lineup in the exhibition season.

“You come back off shoulder surgery and your tryout is three games, it’s not fair,” Blashill said. “It’s a hard business, but with that said, I have lots of belief in him.”

Pulkkinen’s ability to get back to the NHL largely depends on whether he can score goals. He has scored 11 in 70 NHL games.

But Pulkkinen has been a dominant goal scorer at the minor league level, scoring a league-leading 34 goals during the 2014-15 season. Pulkkinen scored 31 goals during the 2013-14 season.

“Teemu has to score goals,” Blashill said. “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.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the coaching staff will get playing time for Athanasiou or Mantha, given the Red Wings top 12 forwards appear set.

General manager Ken Holland prefers prospects to play regularly, so it’s likely they’ll return to Grand Rapids if they’re not playing consistently in Detroit.

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“If they’re playing lots up here, there’s no issues,” Blashill said. “If they’re not playing lots, up here, then we’ll make sure to get them down there and play.

“But we haven’t even started the season yet. Whichever guy stays, whether he’s in the lineup in Game 1 or not, he’ll get an opportunity soon or we’ll get him to (GR) and get him playing.”

Kronwall practices 

Defenseman Niklas Kronwall (knee) participated in Tuesday’s practice, but Blashill admitted there’s a good chance Kronwall will not play in Thursday’s season opener at Tampa Bay.

Kronwall has only recently begun to increase the intensity of his workouts and didn’t play any exhibition games.

The home opener Monday against Ottawa would be appear to be a better bet for Kronwall’s return.

“I would say there’s a chance he won’t be ready for the (season) opener,” Blashill said. “But I don’t want to comment until we get to that point.”

The Red Wings will keep defensemen Xavier Ouellet and Ryan Sproul — both of whom are no longer waiver exempt — giving them depth on defense.

Ice chips 

Blashill is still mulling line combinations but he’s leaning on keeping the Tomas Tatar, Frans Nielsen and Henrik Zetterberg line together.

“They had good moments (Saturday),” Blashill said. “They’ll be even better. I do like the look of that line.”

…Blashill said the only certain line currently is Luke Glendening centering Steve Ott and Drew Miller as the fourth line.

…Forward Tomas Nosek (lower body) will have his season in Grand Rapids delayed because of minor surgery, said Blashill.