You probably already know this but today the Oilers put Anton Slepyshev on the IR with what I’m suspecting is a groin injury because that’s what the analysts were talking about in the game last night versus the Devils. So, in his stead, the one and only, Jesse Puljujarvi is being recalled for the first time (and only time I hope) this season.
Don’t mind the crass humor from above. I’m close to 40 than I am 30 but I’ve got the maturity of a 13-year-old when it comes to things I fund funny.
One could argue that the Oilers should’ve recalled Ty Rattie, who leads the Bakersfield Condors with 9pts in 10 games (6 goals and 3 assists) but is Rattie a guy that is more suited for the 3rd line in Edmonton? Whereas Puljujarvi has top-6 written all over him…
Anyways, how closely does this recall mirror the one that happened with Leon Draisaitl?
If you recall, as a 19-year-old in 2014-15, Draisaitl suited up for 37 games for the Oilers and put up a modest 9pts (2 goals and 7 assists) before being sent back to the WHL (and giving us a peak into what would become a trademark of his… A clutch playoff performer). The next season, as a 20-year-old, after 6 games and 2 pts in Bakersfield he was recalled and accrued 51 pts in 72 games for the Oilers. In 2016-17, the German put the world on notice that he was now one of the best centres in the NHL and finished the year with 77 points.
Now, I do not expect Jesse Puljujarvi to do any of that. For one, he’s just 19. So if he plays the rest of the year on the Oilers and scores, say 10 goals and 20 assists, or anywhere from 30-35 points, I’ll be happy because that’ll mean the coaching staff had put their faith in the kid.
But as we’re being warned by pundits across the Oilogosphere, if the Oilers do not handle things correctly, they risk losing Puljujarvi as they did with Magnus Paajarvi. Not only that but they lose a trade chip if they do decide to move on from him which I think would be a mistake. Chiarelli is already on thin ice I believe from his previous trades, which I supported and still do, but I’m not sure if the brass feels the same.
Back to Jesse though.
One argument that has been going through the Oilers Twittersphere re: Puljujarvi’s AHL production is that he hasn’t had a decent centre to feed him the puck, therefore he’s yet to show his true value in the minors.
Leon Draisaitl, as mentioned above, only scored 2pts in 6 games for Bakersfield in his short stint with the AHL club. Jesse Puljujarvi, last season, had 28 pts in 39 games as one of the youngest players in North American professional hockey last year. He’s still one of the youngest players at 19!
I’ve also said that Puljujarvi might benefit MORE from the NHL game than the AHL one in that it’s more structured. I’ve always thought that was why Draisaitl took off in the NHL and not the AHL.
The timing couldn’t be better for team and player as the Oilers are losing wingers left and right recently or they’re simply not performing up to par.
Kailer Yamamoto was sent back to Spokane (smart move btw), Slepy is made of glass, Drake Caggiula blocked a shot from one of the NHL’s best young shooters in Ryan Pulock (You know, I’m surprised his foot is still attached to his leg after that), and Jujhar Khaira has decided that he’ll try to kill the opposition with kindness instead of attempting to make each defender he forechecks on part of the board advertisements.
Now, we can assume that Pulju is coming up to play flank to RNH and opposite to Milan Lucic and that bodes well for the young Finn doesn’t it and THIS is an excellent opportunity for him. These two players will not only help carry Puljujarvi along but, and I preface this with an “in theory”, they should be able to paper over any huge mistakes he might make.
But even with that being said, Puljujarvi, Lucic, and RNH are going to be up against some of the best players in the league and I’m hoping that Lucic’s game is going to keep improving but RNH is just settling in as an offensive centreman. Asking him to cover for Puljujarvi might affect his scoring. Then again, I’d say that Pulju’s defensive game is miles ahead of where it should be for a 19-year-old.
Could everything he falling into place?
The dreaded afternoon game versus the Rangers (8-7-2), who are on a 5-game winning streak btw, is upon us and since I’m still getting over the jet lag and the game is on at 2am here, I’ll be watching!
Puljujarvi needs to have an above average game I believe and this will give him some space from the media, the fanbase, and himself. If he scores a goal or gets an assist, all the better! If he photobombs another McDavid interview, GOLD!
Good Luck Jesse! I’m cheering for you!
Here are a couple of good articles on the subject from Jason Gregor and David Staples.
(Gregor) Patience for Puljujarvi
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