And here we come to the biggest challenge of this trade, and not just because I had to figure out how to make umlauts because of him. Järnkrok’s inclusion in this trade provoked ALOT of hurt feelings from fans. Depending on who you talk to, he’s the 2nd – 5th best prospect in the Red Wings’ arsenal. Rather, he was. He’s 22 years old, helped Sweden win gold at the 2013 WJC, and is cousins with the Elias Lindholm of the Carolina Hurricanes. As I’m sure you can imagine, Holland giving up a Swede is pretty much unheard of.
With only 68 AHL games under his belt, it’s hard to say what anyone would get out of Järnkrok, but many consider him extremely likely to succeed in the NHL. This is a big reason why his departure hit home for many, it’s seen as mortgaging Detroit’s future. The Red Wings were only able to survive transition away from players like Yzerman and Federov because they held on to prospects like Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Getting rid too many prospects can hurt a team dramatically in the long run, but as I mentioned before, Detroit has a whole lot of prospects. Prospects that seem mostly committed to staying in North America.
I never heard much about this until today, but there was a rumor going around (shortly after the trade) claiming Järnkrok has been seriously considering returning to Sweden at the conclusion of this season (speaking of prospects threatening to leave…). Whether or not those rumors have any teeth to them remains to be seen, some sincerely doubt it, but obviously this changes everything. If this was a player Holland didn’t expect to hang on to, this becomes a steal. One useful player for three things Detroit didn’t have much use for. Now one can’t ever predict the future; maybe a talk with Holland persuades Järnkrok to stick around Grand Rapids for a couple years more if he isn’t traded. Maybe he really clicks with Phillip Forseberg, falls in love with a country music singer, and decides Nashville is the place to be. Who knows? All we know is that Järnkrok has a new lease on a North American career, and what he decides to do with it is up to him. Given that he’s 22 in a system that took even longer for players like Nyquist and Tatar to get a full time NHL spot, he would have had to wait a while in Grand Rapids.
I’ll finish out my Järnkrok critique with an anacdote. When I graduated college last year, I moved from Virginia Beach, VA, to Columbus, OH for a job. I felt kinda isolated, I missed my friends, and adjusting was difficult. But I didn’t even have to change time zones, and the people still spoke my language (except for the Blue Jackets fans…). I imagine the adjustment from Sweden to America is about twenty times harder, and if Järnkrok is homesick and doesn’t feel like sticking around Grand Rapids is worth it, I don’t think anyone can blame him for it.
People can fall in love with prospects, and generally the people that get a little too into the prospects irritate me. But I used to live in an AHL market so I understand that kind of proximity breeds intimacy sometimes as well. The biggest thing to remember with prospects is that their entire purpose is to serve the big team. Järnkrok might have been a sensation in Detroit. He also might be the next Nikita Filatov. With David Legwand, there’s a lot less ‘might’ and a lot more ‘will’. Like, ” David Legwand ‘will’ center the first line tomorrow night, so poor Joakim Andersson doesn’t have to.”
Note: It’s been brought to my attention that no one should refer to the new acquisition as “Detroit-Native David Legwand”. He is from Grosse Pointe, it is not even the same thing.