With Niklas Kronwall already set to miss the World Cup of Hockey to rest up for training camp and Teemu Pulkkinen questionable for the start of the season, the Detroit Red Wings were dealt with two more clippings in the forms of forward Tomas Jurco and defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.
#RedWings Tomas Jurco had “minor” back surgery last week, hurting himself working out. Out 4-6 weeks. Might not be ready for start of season
— Ansar Khan (@AnsarKhanMLive) August 24, 2016
Red Wings’ Jurco, Prospect Saarijarvi Undergo Surgeries
After a promising start to his NHL career, Jurco has hit a rough patch, and this injury does not help whatsoever. In junior, the Kosice native was touted as a skilled right winger and YouTube star with his stick tricks. He netted 87 goals and 175 points in 172 games for the QMJHL’s Saint John’s Sea Dogs. After his impressive junior career, he played an integral part in the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins‘ Calder Cup Championship run in 2013. His first professional season saw him show off his goal-scoring and play making ability. Jurco scored 14 goals and 28 points in 74 games. He saved his best for the spring, scoring eight goals and 14 points in 24 games as the team captured its first Calder Cup Championship under rookie coach Jeff Blashill.
Jurco got even better the next season, averaging a point per game in 32 games while scoring 13 goals. In a campaign where Detroit lost Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg for nearly half the season, Jurco was called up and performed admirably. He scored eight goals and 15 points in 36 games helping the Wings to a 23rd consecutive playoff appearance.
Recent NHL Struggles
Since then, 107 NHL games have passed, and the 6’1″, 202-pound Jurco has amassed just seven goals and 24 points over two seasons. However, it is not all his fault. Under Mike Babcock and Blashill, the 23-year-old was rarely given a consistent opportunity in the top six. He was also regularly scratched, including this past season where he played just 44 games. At one point this season, he was scratched for ten games in a row. On a rebuilding club, if given a consistent shot with a full recovery, he could develop into a formidable winger. The Wings were high on Jurco, taking him 35th overall in the 2011 NHL draft. He will carry a $900,000 cap hit this season. Jurco is scheduled to be a restricted free agent at the end of this coming season.
Per Ken Holland, Red Wings prospect D Vili Saarijärvi has had wrist surgery, out about two months.
— Helene St. James (@HeleneStJames) August 24, 2016
The 19-year old Saarijarvi enjoyed a solid first OHL season in 2015-16 amidst a horrible situation in Flint this season with ownership. Building off of a year in the USHL that saw him net six goals and 23 points in 57 games, the Rovaniemi native scored 12 goals and 43 points in 59 contests this year. Among defensemen, he tied for ninth in the league in overall scoring, tied for seventh overall in goals scored by blue liners, and made his money on the man advantage tying for the league lead with eight power play goals.
He was known to be the trigger man on the first unit for the Firebirds, firing 219 shots on goal to finish second at his position in the league. While Saarijarvi enjoyed individual success, overall the team struggled, finishing ninth in the Western Conference with an abysmal 20-42-6 record. He did bring pride to his country however at December’s World Junior Championships in Helsinki, helping the Fins capture their fourth title with four assists in seven games.
On June 24th, Saarijarvi was dealt from the Firebirds to the Mississauga Steelheads, a team that finished with a record that got them into the OHL Playoffs (33-30-5). The squad boasted three players selected in the top two rounds of the 2016 NHL Draft: Alexander Nylander (28 goals, 75 points), Michael Mcleod (21 goals, 61 points) and Nathan Bastian (19 goals, 59 points). The latter two will most likely be back, with Nylander a top-ten pick. Since he is an import, he has multiple options. Instead of having the only option of going back to the OHL to play with Saarijarvi if he doesn’t make the Buffalo Sabres, he could either do that, play in the AHL, or go back to the Swedish League.
A right-handed shot (!!!), Saarijarvi was selected 73rd overall in the third round of the 2015 Draft by Detroit. He quickly rose through the ranks in Finland’s Junior C, B, and A Leagues playing for the RoKi and Kärpät programs, posting a combined ten goals and 38 points in 48 games his last campaign for them.