04/09/2014 11:51 AM
Teemu Pulkkinen, Ryan Sproul
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins right wing Teemu Pulkkinen and defenseman Ryan Sproul on Wednesday were named to the 2013-14 American Hockey League All-Rookie Team.
Pulkkinen, 22, leads the Griffins in scoring with 55 points (30-25—55) in 67 games and ranks among the team’s leaders with 30 goals (1st), 25 assists (4th), a plus-18 rating (4th) and nine power play goals (1st). Among AHL rookies, Pulkkinen ranks third in scoring, first in goals and first in plus/minus, and his 30 goals tie for fourth among all league scorers.
On March 7, Pulkkinen scored his 25th goal of the season to establish a new record for a Griffins rookie, beating the 24-goal efforts of Justin Abdelkader and Francis Pare in 2008-09. Furthering his accolades, Pulkkinen scored two goals in a 3-1 victory over the Milwaukee Admirals on March 30 to become the first Griffin to reach 30 goals in a season since Jeremy Williams (32) in 2009-10.
Detroit’s fourth choice (111th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, Pulkkinen became the 141st Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL when he debuted with the Red Wings on March 14. Before returning to Grand Rapids on March 23, Pulkkinen skated in three games with the Red Wings, posting four shots on goal and two penalty minutes.
A native of Vantaa, Finland, Pulkkinen joined the Griffins late in the 2012-13 campaign after spending four seasons with Jokerit of Finland’s SM-Liiga, where he earned 128 points (49-79—128) in 185 career games. Pulkkinen tallied one point (0-1—1) in two regular season appearances and five points (3-2—5) in 14 playoff games en route to capturing the Calder Cup.
Sproul, 21, has produced 31 points (10-21—31) in 70 games this season, placing second among Griffins defensemen and tying for eighth overall on the team in scoring. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman ranks among the team’s leaders with 21 assists (6th) and two game-winning goals (T6th). Sproul’s 10 goals and 31 points are both tied for second among all rookie defensemen in the AHL, and he has helped solidify a Griffins defense that ranks second in the league allowing just 2.43 goals per game on the year.
In the Griffins’ season opener and his first professional game, Sproul chipped in two goals in an 8-1 road victory over the Rochester Americans on Oct. 4. A native of Mississauga, Ontario, Sproul has earned five multipoint games, including a three-assist performance on Nov. 6 versus the Rockford IceHogs.
Prior to joining the Griffins, Sproul recorded 149 points (54-95—149) and 134 PIM in 170 career games with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds from 2010-13. Sproul led OHL defensemen and finished second on the Greyhounds in 2012-13 with 66 points (20-46—66) en route to capturing CHL Defenseman of the Year honors. In the same season, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound blueliner won the Max Kaminsky Trophy for OHL Defenseman of the Year and was named to the OHL’s First All-Star Team.
Sproul is just the second Griffins defenseman to be named to the AHL All-Rookie Team, and this is the first time in franchise history that two Griffins players have been named to the team. The Griffins’ four previous All-Rookie selections are now with the Red Wings (2005-06 Jimmy Howard, 2008-09 Justin Abdelkader, 2010-11 Brendan Smith and 2011-12 Gustav Nyquist).
Each player will receive a custom-designed crystal award in recognition of his selection to the 2013-14 AHL All-Rookie Team.
The other members of the AHL All-Rookie Team, as voted by AHL coaches, players and media in each of the league’s 30 member cities, are forwards Curtis McKenzie (Texas) and Ryan Strome (Bridgeport); defenseman Brenden Kichton (St. John’s); and goaltender Joni Ortio (Abbotsford).