The Vegas Golden Knights won’t have Teemu Pulkkinen in the lineup this season, as the restricted free agent has decided to sign in the KHL. Pulkkinen today signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Minsk, explaining why he didn’t file for arbitration earlier this offseason. Pulkkinen never did play for the Golden Knights, instead spending the year with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL.
The 26-year old forward has been an elite minor league scoring threat for many years, registering seasons of 59, 61 and 65 points through his professional career. In 241 AHL regular season contests he’s produced 222 points, but hasn’t ever really been able to crack an NHL lineup one a full-time basis. Selected by the Detroit Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, he played 70 games for the club across three seasons, recording 20 points but never being able to find consistent minutes. That’s mostly because of a perceived lack of footspeed and defensive awareness, something that he can get away with at the lower levels.
In the KHL, Pulkkinen’s offensive skills are bound to shine through. It will be interesting to see if he considers a return to North America after his one year is up, or whether he’ll be content to play out the rest of his career overseas. One would think that Jokerit would want him back at some point if possible, after he found a ton of success with the team before joining the Red Wings organization.