Opportunity Calls for Tomas Jurco

“I could keep plugging him in every other game or every third game but I think ultimately if we just take a little time away to get Jurco’s game back to where I think it’s going to be, he could become a real effective player for us.”
-Jeff Blashill

At one point in time, Tomas Jurco’s game was at an all-time high with Jeff Blashill. With Grand Rapids in 2013-14, Jurco had 13 goals and 32 points in 32 games, the best of his young career in either the AHL or NHL. He would add eight goals and 15 assists in the NHL that season helping the Wings make the playoffs.

2014-15 would be a far cry from Jurco’s pace the previous season, as in 63 games he had just three goals and 18 points. In Jurco’s defense, he averaged about 11:31 of ice time regularly playing with the bottom six forwards, but with the Wings having a logjam, he rarely had an opportunity.

The same has rung true this season. The 22-year old has dressed in just four games, picking up one assist getting scratched since Halloween. Joakim Andersson and Andreas Athanasiou were getting in the lineup over him, the latter as a call-up for a few games.

Two days before Athanasiou was sent down, on November 17th, Jurco was sent to Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint for a minimum of two weeks with Brad Richards and Pavel Datsyuk returning from injury.

Since that Tuesday he was sent down, the Kosice native has been tearing it up in GR, scoring five goals and nine points in five games. With Athanasiou and Jurco back in the lineup, the Griffins have won five straight games, slowly climbing back to .500 under new head coach Todd Nelson after a 2-8-1 start.

Today, it was revealed that he was recalled, getting a chance to play his fifth game of the season.

The forward lines for Detroit line up as follows:

Justin Abdelkader-Henrik Zetterberg-Dylan Larkin


Brad Richards-Pavel Datsyuk-Teemu Pulkkinen


Tomas Tatar-Riley Sheahan-Gustav Nyquist


Drew Miller-Luke Glendening-Darren Helm


To this writer, the ideal spot to put Jurco would be in Teemu Pulkkinen’s place. He does have six goals, but is regularly beat out in puck battles and is diminutive in size(5’11”, 183 lbs). If Jeff Blashill wants to capitalize on the recently built confidence in the young Slovakian, he would give him a real opportunity to show he belongs with two high-scoring hockey IQs in Richards and Datsyuk. Both of them can distribute the puck and seem to be getting back into form after being on the IR for a few weeks.


Richards and Datsyuk seem to have built up some solid chemistry together since both of them returned, and their possession numbers speak for themselves:

Putting those two charts with this one could prove to be a good combo.

But, all numbers aside, this opportunity is all about how Jurco handles it. Many fans tend to forget that he was drafted at 18 and is still at the tender age of 22. Sometimes players bloom late. Gustav Nyquist was 24 before he finally got his opportunity. Tomas Tatar was kept in Grand Rapids for four seasons before he was given a full roster spot at 22. Jurco logged just a season and a half before he was called up as an injury replacement in 2013-14, and that half season was proving to be one to remember with his point-per-game pace.With his skating legs under him from this conditioning stint, the production and confidence is there.

It’s time to see it translate to the NHL level while playing with great players.

Main Photo:

Quote courtesy of mLive
Tweet courtesy of @AnsarKhanMLive