In a pre-draft interview in 2010, Calle Jarnkrok was asked to give a description of North American hockey as he had been exposed to it in Europe: "North American players all play the same style of game. They are like robots or machines," he replied, which we've all heard before. He was then drafted by Detroit, the veritable capital of American robots and machines.
When Jarnkrok was acquired in the David Legwand trade in early March of last year, we expected him to bring fast, creative play-making skills to the team, instead of the robotic grit that we already had (I'm looking at you, Paul Gaustad). In a mere 12 games, we saw those skills. He brought great scoring ability, impressive offensive awareness, and a penchant for capitalizing on opportunities, such as in his first goal:
We don't have a lot of numbers at this point on Jarnkrok. The Swede had 18 goals, 27 assists in 63 games in the AHL last year, split between Grand Rapids and Milwaukee. Prior to that, he provided modest double-digit goal totals for his SHL team Brynas from 2010-2013. Uh, ok, sure. We know about as much about Brynas and the SHL as we do about whatever hockey league exists on Mars (I'm sure there is one). He provided 9 points for the Predators in 12 games at the end of last year, which was fun to watch.
Jarnkrok projects as a top 6 forward with 1st or 2nd PP unit ability. He may very well be the play-making scorer that elevates some of our charming-but-flawed forwards like Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, and Mike Fisher. Some have compared him to Valtteri Filppula but maybe he will turn out more like that other Red Wings center- the one drafted in the 6th round in 1998.
Best Case Scenario
Jarnkrok centers an exciting 3rd line with Forsberg and Jokinen, unleashing havoc on 2nd and 3rd defensive pairings. He plays wing on the 2nd PP unit, providing consistent depth in that area. He chips in a few shootout goals, improving our dreadful shootout numbers from last year. More importantly, he spends zero ice-time in Milwaukee and gives Olli Jokinen some hair-care tips.
Worst Case Scenario
Unable to establish himself as an important player in the early months of the season, Jarnkrok spends most of the season in the AHL. The Preds then use him as trade-bait late in the season. Worst-Worst Case Scenario: He is traded to the Ottawa Senators for David Legwand.
Jarnkrok finishes the season with 14g, 20a, anchoring the 3rd line with consistent offensive play. He leads the Predators in shootout goals with 6.
Well, his last name means "Ironhook" in English, which is just about the coolest thing I've ever heard. So his spirit animal is a wolverine, with sharp, iron-like claws. Wolverines are known for being surprisingly strong and fast for their small size, and are quite opportunistic when they hunt prey. They also don't hibernate, even though they are mammals, which gives them more time to score goals.