62 Calle Jarnkrok
Pluses: This 5’10,” maybe 150-lb (probably 140-something) forward admittedly understands why the Red Wings drafted him, and understands that he must get much, much bigger and much, much stronger to have any pro potential…
But what potential he has. The 18-year-old, right-shooting center who spent the latter half of the 2009-2010 season with Brynas IF’s men’s team after dominating at the Under-20 level looked absolutely horrible some of Andy Weidenbach’s skating drills, and awkward as his rail-thin-and-gangly-frame looked as he attempted to master Thomas Storm’s stickhandling exercises, and in Curt Fraser’s limited situational drills, he got pushed around like a rag doll at times. For the first part of camp, I was absolutely puzzled about the hype surrounding Jarnkrok.
Then the wide-eyed rookie who also admitted that he was a bit dazzled and dazed about the fact that he’d gone from Los Angeles to Sweden and back to Detroit over the course of 13 days started to get comfortable with his surroundings, get comfortable with his teammates, and when he started to skate on a line alongside Landon Ferraro and Mitchell Callahan during scrimmages, he dangled, deked, dipsy-doodled and dazzled.
Jarnkrok slipped to the Red Wings’ clutches in the second round because he really does have skills equal to Smith or Ferraro and really does have a body the size of a small teenager’s. His shot is hard, picks corners, and is incredibly sneaky and simply quick, his passing is nearly prescient at times, and as awkward as he looked at times, his skating was fantastic when the puck was on his stick. He generated offense consistently on the rush and on the cycle, serving as Ferraro’s “finisher” as he charged to the net and managed to sneak his body, or at least his stick, through the bigger and stronger players defending him and jab the puck either into the net or toward a teammate, he could deke the puck away from a player who was physically overpowering him, and for a bit of a puck hog, he certainly knew how to use his defensemen as outlets when necessary. He got caught cheating toward offense quite regularly, but he did work very, very hard to get back to help his defense, and his battle level in his own zone did not falter.
Minuses: Incredibly slight doesn’t begin to describe Jarnkrok. He looked like he was 18 going on 14, and while he possessed a decent amount of muscle on his frame, there just wasn’t much frame to put muscle on to begin with. He’s going to have an incredibly hard time gaining weight and strength, and especially given his tenuous level of confidence, if he starts the season with Brynas IF’s men’s team and he falters, he could find himself in serious trouble.
Ditto for his strength and conditioning. Despite his age and potential, if you look at some of the Wings’ Swedish prospects, for the Niklas Kronwalls and Henrik Zetterbergs that buy into the Wings’ system and learn to eat and train like professional athletes, there are the Johan Rynos and Jesper Samuelssons that simply refuse, believe that if they can persist and sometimes succeed at a reasonable level in Sweden, that that’s good enough for them, and one way or another, they fall by the wayside. Jarnkrok has to want to work himself incredibly hard over the next two years to garner a contract—that time frame’s in place now because the NHL and Sweden have hammered out a transfer agreement—and I suppose the difference between Ryno, Jesper Samuelsson, and even Hat Trick Dick Axelsson and Jarnkrok is a simple one.
Somebody like Hat Trick Dick could become a star if his heart was into it. Even after watching him play for all of a week, I’m comfortable saying that Jarnkrok, like Smith and Ferraro, could become a superstar.
Potential “upside”: He could become anything from a skinny kid who grows up into a skinny man and happily plies his trade in the Allsvenskan or Eliteserien to someone who can post 50-70 points at the NHL level. It’s far too early to say but his potential is ridiculously high.