Here we have two players of immense talent being squandered. One by the team and the other by the player himself.
Now, the title might be a bit overdramatic but is there any reason that Jesse Puljujarvi should be up with the Oilers right now? And if Ryan Nugent-Hopkins can’t be relied upon to take face-offs for the team OR put up offense, then where does his future lie within the organization?
I asked the guys on the BLH team about RNH and this is what they had to say:
- Eric Friesen (@EricJFriesen) – Not the right time to trade him at all
- Johnny Potts (@Kosmicburrito) – His value is WAY too low right now
- Michael Gerber (@Gerberoo) – RNH from 2011 – 2016 has a pts per 60 scoring rate of 1.62 points at even strength. That scoring rate is good for 173rd in the NHL over that span among active players.
Given that you would expect a top line center to be in the top 90 in scoring (there would be 90 top line players in the NHL based on 30 teams) and you would like a second line center to be at least in the top 180 RNH’s production makes him on par with the lower end of second line players. While you can point to usage as contributory to lower production, particularly this year, we are looking at a large sample size.
In direct comparison his teammates Leon Draisaitl (1.88 p/60) and Connor McDavid (2.69 p/60) are 84th and 2nd respectively are both scoring at a very good rate equal to first line players.
Thankfully for Nuge, points per 60 is only one measure of the value of a player and he does have redeeming qualities. He has decent skating ability, above average defensive acumen and can make and take a pass.
Overall, a $6M center providing 2nd line equivalent scoring, 2nd power play minutes and checking depth isn’t ideal.
- G-Money (@Oilersnerdalert) – Nuge is being used by TMc as the shutdown power vs power centre this year. Not McDavid. Not Draisaitl. Nuge is the guy spending 41% of his time against the best players in the NHL. That’s creating a ton of clear air for McDavid and Draisaitl. If you’re comparing things like points, you better take that into account. Nuge’spoints are being sacrificed to give the other two a chance to score more.When Nuge is up against those great players, it’s true he’s struggling to keep his head above water. Moreso than in years past. And he’s not the only one. My suggestion: give him Eberle and Pouliot on an ongoing basis. Let those two (who are both struggling) right their ships. Nuge’s ship will get fixed right along with them.
When Nuge is not against those great players, against pretty much every one else, he runs roughshod. The Nuge is Yuuuuuuuge!
G-Money’s comments are just an excerpt from something he whipped up for us and I’ll be sure to post that on its own for you to read.
- BLH (@Beerleagueheroe) – RNH… At around the 15 game mark something started to go wrong and his face-off percentages have taken a nose-dive since then. His best day at the dot was Nov.17th versus the Kings, where he was 52% on the draw. His worst day was on Dec.4th versus the Wild, a mind-boggling 16.7% on face-offs… 13 points in 28 games is not cutting the mustard but if we cut that down to the past 5 games we can see that he has a goal and two assists in that time. So there’s a sliver of hope still hanging for us.I mean, it’s not like he’s doing THAT bad. Patrice Bergeron has 8 pts this year… Even so, RNH is the de-facto no.2 centre and yes, the responsibilities within that position include taking on the opposition’s best offensive centre, but it doesn’t mean Nuge has to shut down his own offense at the same time. And if that is going to be what happens, he’d better be next version of Guy Carbonneau in order to be earning that $6M paycheck annually.
I’ve always felt ever since the Oilers got Hall, then Nuge, then Yakupov; that they’d have to go through the same process that the Quebec Nordiques went through when they drafted Mats Sundin, Eric Lindros, and Owen Nolan. Meaning that before the Oilers will be able to take the next step, those three 1st overalls will need to move on and if Nuge is progressing this badly, then I stand by the idea that the Oilers should see what they can get for him.
I know the Habs are constantly the name being linked with 93 this year with injuries taking out their no.2 and no.3 centres. But I don’t see anything apart from Brendan Gallagher that I reckon would be realistically possible unless you believe that Max Pacioretty is available…
Makes you think a bit, doesn’t it? Then again, why would the Habs even consider moving their no.1 LW?
The Islanders would be a target for me, the Ducks’ defense, as well as, the Wild’s defense; would be targets if I were GM.
But let’s not kid ourselves, Nuge’s ticket is staying in Edmonton. He’s an underperforming centre who makes $6M per year.
As for Puljujarvi…
Tyler Pitlick and Anton Slepyshev are experienced professional hockey players now and Jesse Puljujarvi is not. This is becoming painfully obvious with each passing game where he’s either scratched or lining up in the bottom 6 without an adequate center. Actually, what he reminds me of is that first year that Leon Draisaitl played. Flashes of brilliance mixed in with a shit ton of growing pains. Puljujarvi should be getting time on the second PP unit but for whatever reason, the coach doesn’t see him as a fit and I’d love to know why… Maybe Jim Matheson can ask another question on behalf of the bloggers like he did the morning after the Buffalo game 🙂
Pitlick and Slepyshev deserve to be playing for the Edmonton Oilers on a nightly basis. They bring speed and sandpaper, skill and smarts to the ice when they are out there. One could argue that Anton Slepyshev would be handy on the powerplay with his shot and puck patience and Tyler Pitlick would be a huge add to the penalty kill with his size, speed, and forecheck.
Puljujarvi needs a pick-me-up and sending him to the World Juniors is not an option. At least no more an option than sending McDavid back to Erie. The Grinnin’ Finn should be gone to Bakersfield before any more of his confidence is sapped out of him. Colorado’s Mikko Rantanen did it last year and that choice turned out to be nothing short of brilliant.
I understand why Pulju isn’t going down and that is because the Oilers are actively shopping Benoit Pouliot and Matt Hendricks and need Puljujarvi up to cover on the wing in case they are moved. But I hope the Oilers can do something and fast because we’re now closer to the 50% mark on the year than the beginning mark and teams are starting to catch up to the Oilers in the mire that is what we call the Pacific Division. Calgary are even-steven with us now baby and it’s time to start getting real about roster decisions.
What do you think? Are you ready to move on from Nugent-Hopkins or do you think the Oilers should hold onto him and wait for his ridiculously low shooting percentage (5%) to come back to normal (approx. 10%)? And Puljujarvi? Do you think he’s better off on the Oilers or down in Bakersfield on the Condors?
Let us know in the comments below!