Oilers Sorted For The Summer?

I’m not a huge fan of summers, they’re hot and humid in Taiwan. Most mornings it’s 30 degrees Celsius or more by 10 am and there’s a good chance you’ll be changing your clothes two or three times a day if you spend any amount of time outside. Add to that the afternoon thunderstorms that don’t really bring the temperature down and just make everything wet. Fall is the time to be here when it gets a bit cooler and a tad more comfortable.

Another reason I don’t really fancy the summertime is that after Canada Day, not a lot goes on in the hockey world. There are some development camp highlights and if I recall correctly, the Ivan Hlinka U18 tourny is in the summer but most of the big name free agents are snatched up in the first few days of July and then the leftovers take forever to find a team to sign with.

Now, as an Oilers fan, most of our business is done with apart from Leon Draisaitl’s contract and now it’s time for prognostication, and recollection to take hold of the summer.

So I’d like to hit on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins future a little bit and perhaps talk about the signing of Jussi Jokinen and its affect on Puljujarvi if that’s cool.

THE NUGE

We were chatting a bit about what the future holds for RNH this summer on Twitter recently. I’m of the belief that he’ll be moved eventually in the same way Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle were, in cost-cutting trades. UNLESS a dman like Tyson Barrie or Justin Faulk become available.

But that brings us to another point,

Ms. Marginet you are a wise one!

So what do the Oilers do here? What if a Tyson Barrie or a Justin Faulk come available and the ask is simply Nugent-Hopkins? That’s a no-brainer, right? Yes and no.

Yes because having that offensive puck-moving dman would sure help out the offense that much more.

But dealing RNH too early could handicap the Oilers down the middle. Nuge is the 3rd best center on the team and dealing him for a defender would give us too many defensemen and not enough centres with experience.

I mean, yes, they could bring up somebody from the AHL to play 4th line and move Letestu to the 3rd line but Marky Mark isn’t getting any younger. The Oilers could sign a free agent as well or trade for a centre by using one of their excess defenders. A complicated scenario nevertheless.

I think the Oilers did a fair-to-midland job last season with the D group they had and currently have. It’s obvious that the PP runs through the forwards down low with the odd one-timer coming from the point. Is that a good plan going forward? An argument could be had that it isn’t.

Next summer will be the time when Nugent-Hopkins is moved I believe. McDavid’s $100M contract kicks in and a whole slew of players will be looking for renewals. Those including Pat Maroon, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev, and Ryan Strome. You could add Mark Letestu to that group as well.

I don’t believe any of those players will warrant mind-boggling raises in the vein of Draisaitl but they’ll dig into the cap regardless. Moving Nuge will help to alleviate that pressure.

So where does Nuge go?

That probably will be decided by Matt Duchene and where he doesn’t go. Most rumors have Montreal as the leading candidate for RNH and I can’t argue with that but it’d probably mean that the defenseman we want won’t be in the return.

Brendan Gallagher is the player I believe would be the asked return for Nugent-Hopkins. He’s a right-winger, he scores, he plays a very gritty game (Chiarelli’s favorite), and he’s contracted for another 4 seasons @ $3.75M.

Bergevin would definitely try to get Edmonton to take Plekanec but Montreal needs a top 6 centre and RNH would definitely fit the bill.

In the end, I don’t think that there’s any pressure on the Oilers to make any unnecessary moves this summer. Chiarelli can afford to sit on what he has for a few months into the season and guage what he needs to do around the time Andrej Sekera is to come off of the injured reserve.

JUSSI JOKINEN

Well, we did tell you that Speedy Turtle was reporting that a JJ was coming to Edmonton yesterday, then the site crashed… Meh, sh*t happens.

Anyways, Jokinen is an Edmonton Oiler for the upcoming season and as we’re told from the Oilers themselves, he’s a utility player that can play both wings and a dusting of centre if need be and we all know how much Coach McLellan loves his forwards who can play across the line.

I like that he could be a 50pt to 60pt player in a middle-6 role. He’ll help on both the powerplay and the penalty kill. I’m not jumping for joy over the signing but I understand it. He’s a player that can help on many different fronts on the ice and off of it. Specifically with Jesse Puljujarvi.

Pulju will be handed the keys to the Lambo next season and it’ll be up to him to take that Italian beast and ride the living crap out of it but it’ll be Jussi Jokinen in the passenger seat guiding him on that highway to hell.

I said this yesterday on Twitter but I don’t believe that Puljujarvi’s language barrier was the biggest problem last season even though McLellan/Chiarelli used it as one of the reasons for Pulju’s performance at the NHL level.

  • JP was the youngest player in the NHL and the AHL. That’s a much bigger reason to take into consideration and I believe that was THE biggest reason. Immaturity, inexperience, culture shock, and playing in the best hockey league in the world being the other reasons.
  • The Oilers had Pakarinen on the NHL roster and his English is fine.
  • The Oilers had Jere Sallinen on Bakersfield (AHL) last season. I don’t think we heard a peep out of him though but Puljujarvi had a productive rookie season in the AHL, no?

Understanding the language is important, don’t get me wrong, for over a decade I’ve had the job of teaching English to kids and adults here in Taiwan. I’ve also ran hockey practices here in Taiwan and I play hockey on a team with no other foreigners. I’m not saying I’m an authority on the matter but I feel like I can’t speak from experience on both sides of the coin.

Hockey isn’t brain surgery. We like to think it is but it’s mostly systems, ironing out mistakes and praising the correct actions. Take out a whiteboard and some markers and you can get most messages across. If not, use the time off-ice to get the point across.

It’s part of the coaching staff’s job to parlay their messages to every player regardless of nationality. It’s part of the management staff’s job to make sure that their players are learning the team’s systems and the native language off-ice by using ESL programs and tutors, and lastly, it’s part of the player’s job to do the work to get to know the team’s systems and to study the language whenever possible but if the teachers (coaches/managers) are doing a poor job, it’s hard for the students (players) to reach their full potential in the most minimal time possible.

What I will say though is that just by living in an English speaking environment, he’s a step ahead and his acquisition of the language will be accelerated through everyday interaction.

I mean if that language barrier was that bad of a problem for JP and the Oilers coaching staff last season, I feel terrible for those Russians/Czechs that came across in the 70s, 80s and 90s with not even a base level of English. If I remember correctly, Jagr has said that he didn’t know a lick of English when he came, he did pretty well I’d say.

From a possession standpoint, Puljujarvi did pretty well last season in his limited time in the NHL. He could hold his own but the offense wasn’t coming and I think that was hard on fans when they saw his fellow rookie countrymates over in Winnipeg and Carolina lighting it up.

So the point I’m trying to make is that Jokinen wasn’t brought in to be Puljujarvi’s translator like maybe a Matti Hagman to Jari Kurri. That’ll be a portion of the job but not the main part. Jokinen is going to show Puljujarvi the NHL ropes that Iiro the Hero apparently couldn’t last season.

All of that being said, in 2017/18, I truly believe that Puljujarvi will show us why he was ranked no.2 in his draft year for so long. Funny thing is, he’ll still be one of the youngest players in the league. At least he’ll have Uncle Jussi to help out 🙂

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Beer League Hero Written by:

I'm the Beer League Hero! I am from Camrose, Alberta but I make my home in Taipei City, Taiwan. I've been through the ups and downs and the highs and the Lowes, the Bonsignores and the McDavids, the Sathers and the Eakins but I'll never leave my Oilers, no matter what! They're with me until the end and then some. GO OILERS GO!

  • Truthhurts98

    I enjoy your write-ups and was bummed the site crashed. But I kept checking until it was back up and you were right. I thought it might be Jagr at first, but it didn’t make sense the more I thought about it. Jussi was a brilliant signing and I think he’ll do wonders for JP on the ice. I don’t see how they are landing Faulk or Barrie now that they signed Russell to 4 years. But who knows? RNH days are numbered, but I think PC keeps him this year.

    • Beer League Hero

      Thanks for the kind words! Next season should be a beauty. In expecting the unexpected, a spot in the finals should be in order 😉