The Wild claimed winger Teemu Pulkkinen, a prolific goal scorer at every level except the NHL, off waivers from Detroit on Tuesday.
Pulkkinen spent the past two seasons on the Red Wings roster and appeared in 67 games with 11 goals, nine assists and a plus-12 rating. He became known for his strong righthanded shot after totaling 65 goals and 121 points in 119 games in the American Hockey League with Grand Rapids, but struggled to establish himself as a regular in Detroit’s lineup.
He was a healthy scratch during the 2015-16 postseason and had offseason shoulder surgery.
The 5-11, 183-pound Finn is expected to play on the Wild’s fourth line when it opens the season at St. Louis on Thursday.
“He scored an awful lot of goals in the American Hockey League. He hasn’t shown he can be that level of goal-scorer yet in the NHL,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “But that’s the upside and that’s the promise and that’s the risk we’re taking. It’s hard to score goals in this league. and we just thought his talent was pretty high-end and certainly worth the waiver claim.”
Detroit signed Pulkkinen to a one-year contract worth $812,500 in July, and he will be a restricted free agent next summer.
“From what I heard … [he’s] very high-skilled,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “[Assistant coach John Anderson] played against him a lot last year [coaching Chicago in the AHL]. He can score, he’s got a tremendous shot. So we think it’s a good get and an inexpensive get.”
The Wild’s opening night roster has been finalized and it does not include rookie Joel Eriksson Ek.
The 19-year-old was assigned to AHL Iowa at the 4 p.m. deadline because of salary cap reasons.
Defenseman Victor Bartley tore his left triceps in training camp and must be placed on injured reserve, so the Wild must accrue a salary cap charge of a little less than $400,000 (his full cap hit is $650,000).
The Wild couldn’t keep both Eriksson Ek and Zac Dalpe at the same time, or it would have been over the $73 million salary cap. Eriksson Ek, 19, is being reassigned because the Wild is waiting for his immigration paperwork to be approved.
When that happens, Eriksson Ek is expected back in Minnesota and the Wild can alter the roster then. The 20th pick in the 2015 draft can return to his native country at any time, but if he plays more than nine NHL games, he’ll burn the first year of his three-year contract.
The Wild will keep its roster at 22 (12 forwards, eight defensemen, two goalies), one fewer than maximum, for a while.
A scare for Dubnyk
Goalie Devan Dubnyk pulled up in pain during Tuesday’s practice and was attended to by the training staff. The Wild’s starting goalie has been battling a hip injury and Tuesday’s scare appeared to be lower body.
Dubnyk stretched, tested his mobility and remained on the ice for the rest of practice.
Boudreau briefly stopped drills and said he was worried.
“My heart was a little bit in my throat there,” Boudreau said. “We knew we’d put [goalie Alex] Stalock on waivers and then [what if] he goes down. But he’s OK. So that’s a good thing.”
• Forward Christoph Bertschy and Stalock, who cleared waivers, were assigned to Iowa.