It doesn’t sound like Red Wings forward Teemu Pulkkinen will be healthy to start the 2016-17 season. He had shoulder surgery in early June and is expected to need 4-6 months to recover.
“After the World Championship, his shoulder didn’t feel good,” Wings GM Ken Holland told MLive. “We’re expected him to be ready to go early in the season.”
Pulkkinen separated his shoulder in December on a hit by Arizona’s Martin Hanzal. He missed 18 games before returning the next month.
It’s a tough blow for the 24-year-old Finn, especially with all the competition for playing time in Detroit. Per General Fanager, the Wings have 15 healthy forwards under contract for next season. That doesn’t include Pulkkinen, a restricted free agent.
Pulkkinen played 36 games for the Wings in 2015-16. Despite having been a big-time scorer in the AHL for Grand Rapids, he’s managed just 11 goals in 70 NHL games.
The St. Louis Blues have agreed to terms with forward Magnus Paajarvi on a one-year contract.
Paajarvi, 25, was a restricted free agent. He played 48 games for the Blues in 2015-16, scoring three times with six assists. He also played seven games in the AHL for the Chicago Wolves (4G, 3A).
The 10th overall pick in the 2009 draft, Paajarvi’s career has not turned out like many thought it would. However, he had some good moments this season, and Blues coach Ken Hitchcock raved about him in December.
“He looks like a heck of a hockey player in the National Hockey League right now,” said Hitchcock.
Of course, come the playoffs, Hitchcock only saw fit to play Paajarvi in three games, so he hasn’t made it as NHL regular yet.
Mitch Marner is currently listed at 163 pounds. Before the start of next season, he wants to get to 170, in hopes the added muscle will give him the best chance to make the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I want to make sure I feel comfortable enough to go out against men and play hard, and make sure I can go out there and do the things that I like to do,” said Marner, per the Waterloo Record. “They want me at a weight where I can stay in the NHL. It depends on how hard I work this summer, and how much I eat. That’s my goal, put on weight and add strength.”
Marner, who piled up 160 points in 75 games for the Memorial Cup-winning London Knights last season, just turned 19 in May, so he cannot be sent to the AHL next season. While there’s been speculation he could play a year of pro in Europe, he shot that idea down, saying if the Leafs don’t feel he’s ready, London would be “a place I’d look forward to going back to.”
For the record, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau is listed at 157 pounds, making him the lightest player in the NHL.
Related: Mitch Marner picked a great time to be an undersized prospect
Just because Jimmy Vesey spurned the Nashville Predators doesn’t mean they’re going to pressure Dante Fabbro to turn pro before he’s ready.
Fabbro, a defenseman, is off to Boston University in the fall. He was the 17th overall pick in the 2016 draft, after a couple of big seasons with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL.
“If Dante is a good player after a couple of years, we’ll certainly approach him,” Preds GM David Poile told The Tennessean. “If he needs four years, then we’ll wait. It’s all about relationships. We thought we had the right relationship with the Veseys, and apparently we didn’t. We certainly will try to do all the right things with the Fabbros.”
For the record, Poile doesn’t like the rule that will allow Vesey to become an unrestricted free agent on Aug. 15. He calls it a “loophole” and a “bad rule,” and he hopes it can be changed.
But the rule didn’t stop the Preds from picking Fabbro, so clearly there’s a confidence that they won’t lose him like they lost Vesey.
Fabbro has reportedly said he doesn’t expect to spend the full four years at BU, and that should make Preds fans happy. They’ll be watching his development closely, hoping it goes well enough that he can turn pro in a couple of years.
Related: Vesey still intends to go to free agency on Aug. 15
Brian Campbell may have been the biggest addition the Blackhawks made to their defense, but don’t sleep on the other one. Chicago GM Stan Bowman is expecting big things from Michal Kempny, the 25-year-old blueliner the ‘Hawks signed in May.
“We wanted to upgrade our defense, and certainly Brian is a big part of that,” Bowman said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re very high on Michal Kempny as well. Everything’s new to him over here now. He has one year in the KHL and he did great his first year there, and we’re hoping he has a great transition to the NHL, as well.”
Kempny played 59 games for Omsk Avangard last season, scoring five goals with 16 assists. In a couple of months, he’ll compete for the Czech Republic at the World Cup.
Defensive depth was an issue for the ‘Hawks last season. In the end, they never adequately replaced Johnny Oduya, who played such a big role for them in the 2015 playoffs.
Next season, they’ll have four — not just three — proven top-4 d-men in Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Campbell, with Trevor van Riemsdyk, Michal Rozsival, Kempny, and a few others competing for the rest of the minutes.
“You put all that together, and our defense is looking very, very strong,” said Bowman. “It’s a strong point of our team right now.”
Related: Forsling could return to Sweden next season