I love old movies. Old movies mean a more leisurely story and each frame gives us a look back in time. Old Coke signs, the cut of a Cary Grant suit, what you could buy for $1.95. I’ve been thinking about Jesse Puljujarvi over the last while. He plays his home games about 37 minutes from the Garces Highway, but the Garces Highway is 5,400 miles from what he knows.
Things happen for a reason, and maturation doesn’t come without lessons earned. In the case of Puljujarvi, it is clear the Oilers believe he is a big part of their future. After all, they invested one of their highest draft picks ever on the impressive Finn. A season in Bakersfield (or at least more than half of one) was probably not JP’s plan and may not have been the Oilers either. That said, we are here.
- Todd McLellan: “In my opinion, Jesse is a top-six or a top-nine player and when he can come in and contribute there on a consistent basis, he’ll get an opportunity. but right now we like him where he is.” Source
Clarity is a good thing, no matter where you find it. Jesse Puljujarvi’s game, at 18, was not going to get him a feature role on this Oilers team as constructed and coached by Mr. McLellan. Will it change by the fall? What elements of his game need to be improved? We heard from Puljujarvi (via an interview in a Finnish newspaper) and McLellan’s views above (via Jim Matheson, please click link) explain the team’s reasoning.
There is a sense, among fans, to assume things will look better a year from now. That may well be true, and keeping JP in the AHL is a good idea for sure. Things to learn, and we hope for the best.
In the article by Mr. Matheson (I won’t quote it, but it is clickable) he mentions that the club decided to keep Jujhar Khaira, Anton Slepyshev and Iiro Pakarinen up during the stretch drive in order to gain valuable experience.
The follow up of course is why not include Jesse Puljujarvi? My answer is playing time. Jujhar Khaira was the one Oiler player who went through the paper transaction that put him on the clear day roster for postseason play with the Condors, so he is likely to get playing time in Bakersfield, too. It also tells us that the organization may feel all four of these men (Puljujarvi, Khaira, Pakarinen and Slepyshev) have a chance to be part of the future. It also tells us that, whatever else we have seen this season, Edmonton no longer hands out NHL jobs to their first rounders. Progress!