In the second period of last night’s 7-3 loss to the Dallas Stars, Calle Jarnkrok, a Nashville Predators forward, collected his fourth assist in the NHL.
Said in that manner, the accomplishment doesn’t sound overly impressive, but with a little context, Jarnkrok’s accomplishments begin to show their true significance.
For starters, the Swedish rookie forward has only played in five NHL games in his career. And he’s recorded a point in every one of them.
Acquired by Nashville earlier this month, the 22-year-old began his fresh start with the Predators playing for their minor league affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. With the Admirals, all the forward did was score. Seven points in five games later, Jarnkrok earned a call-up by the Predators and made his NHL debut on March 21st in Calgary.
Playing on line with forwards Craig Smith and Gabriel Bourque that night, Jarkrok showed speed and a quick shot over 16 minutes of ice time. But most importantly for an offensively challenged team like the Predators, he collected a point.
Over the next eight days, Jarnkrok has shown he won’t settle for being just a flash in the pan. On Tuesday against Colorado, he recorded his third-straight game with an assist and scored his first career shootout goal. In only three games with the Predators, there was quickly just one more major accomplishment the rookie needed to add to his resume: his first NHL goal.
In the very next game, Jarnkrok took a feed from Bourque in the high slot and rifled a puck past Buffalo Sabres goaltender Matt Hackett for his first tally at the game’s top level.
Add in another assist last night, and it’s five points in five NHL games for Jarnkrok.
For some more context, what about what Nashville gave up when they traded for Jarnkrok, forward Patrick Eaves and a conditional third round pick?
The main focus in the deal between the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville on March 5th, David Legwand has been in and out of Detroit’s top six forward group.
Legwand does have seven points in 12 games with the Detroit Red Wings. But now no longer skating on the club’s top line, Legwand is a -8 and has 25 penalty minutes (after only having 30 PIM in 62 games with Nashville) and hasn’t quite had the impact the Red Wings need in their late push for the playoffs.
If Legwand can settle in and become a lockdown third line center for Detroit, that might be enough to please some critics, but whether it’s enough for the Red Wings to make the postseason for the 23rd-consecutive year remains to be seen and the clock is ticking.
Regardless, a defensive-minded center is more of what Detroit needs than Nashville does right now. So maybe this still becomes a trade that works out for both clubs.
The Predators are attempting to break out of a goal-scoring funk that has lasted for a couple seasons and Legwand doesn’t fit into that long-term plan. Parting ways with a piece of their defensive game is worth it, if they indeed have received a high-scoring, talented player in return.
And with Jarnkrok’s five points in five games, at least for now, it appears Nashville is getting just that.