TROUBLE ON GARCES HIGHWAY?

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!

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69 Responses to "TROUBLE ON GARCES HIGHWAY?"

  1. Jethro Tull says:

    I like old movies now they’ve put MST3K on Netflix.

    Good words by TMac. How long have we waited to have the depth and luxury to matriculate players through the system.

  2. kinger_OIL says:

    – Great post LT! Its hard to argue with McL: top-9 seems right in terms of expectations

    – Promise of the next Kurri knowing NHLE, struck me always (on record) as a selective false narrative; panicky MacTavish Oiler-style, selling sold “bill of goods” to fawning fans.

    – Slow play pool-party, let him earn it. We be awesome already

    – I will lecture you LT and many others on the application of variance, and how it pertains to a period or a few shifts, but not now: we are in the Florida Keys: my lord what beautiful country

  3. Lowetide says:

    My projection for JP was 65gp, 14-14-28 .431. JUST a little ways from Jari Kurri
    http://lowetide.ca/2016/08/02/re-16-17-jesse-puljujarvi-powderfinger/

  4. Dino says:

    For the first time in my Edmonton Oilers fandom the team is letting a high end talent marinate in the minors and not rushing him up. That is indeed progress!

    JP is a mystery, there’s no telling what his ceiling will be in the NHL but the good news is he seems to have all the tools needed to succeed in the big leagues. He’s got size, speed and skill so now it’s just a matter of adapting to the North American style of play. Once he understands that aspect of his game I think he’s going to be a very very nice piece in the top 6. Still very excited about his potential.

  5. Professor Q says:

    Dino:
    For the first time in my Edmonton Oilers fandom the team is letting a high end talent marinate in the minors and not rushing him up. That is indeed progress!

    JP is a mystery, there’s no telling what his ceiling will be in the NHL but the good news is he seems to have all the tools needed to succeed in the big leagues. He’s got size, speed and skill now it’s just adapting to the North American style of play. Once he understands that aspect of his game I think he’s going to be a very very nice piece in the top 6. Still very excited about his potential.

    Draisaitl?

  6. Lowetide says:

    Dino:
    For the first time in my Edmonton Oilers fandom the team is letting a high end talent marinate in the minors and not rushing him up. That is indeed progress!

    JP is a mystery, there’s no telling what his ceiling will be in the NHL but the good news is he seems to have all the tools needed to succeed in the big leagues. He’s got size, speed and skill now it’s just adapting to the North American style of play. Once he understands that aspect of his game I think he’s going to be a very very nice piece in the top 6. Still very excited about his potential.

    Agreed. JP looked good in the tournaments, and his scoring wasn’t that far removed (in the Sm-Liiga) from Patrick Laine:

    Laine: 47, 17-16-33 .702
    JP 50, 13-15-28 .560

    Not equal, but it is clear both of these men had pretty good skills for their age in a pro league. Puljujarvi got a late start, and we have to assume to surgery/recovery left him a little behind, but his AHL scoring didn’t force the issue on Chiarelli. Best keep him down there for the rest of the season and playoffs, hopefully he scores at an increased rate as he moves along.

  7. teddyturnbuckle says:

    If we have learned anything from our past its that even the best prospects can be ruined (Nuge) by rushing them into a man’s league. We also can’t be scared of a player fleeing to Europe. Either they are committed to learning the North American game long term or they aren’t worth drafting. Jesse is too young and still learning how to play on the small ice. Let him stay down until the Condors season is over.

  8. kinger_OIL says:

    Lowetide:
    My projection for JP was 65gp, 14-14-28 .431. JUST a little ways from Jari Kurri
    http://lowetide.ca/2016/08/02/re-16-17-jesse-puljujarvi-powderfinger/

    – LT – that was In his first year… Your being selective in disclosure to boot. No fight: love you!

    – He was proclaimed: “McD’s Winger” since he was drafted, full stop, by so many here

    – At least they have played Slepy more than pool-party, which I was advocating in that post

    – I think he can be a fine player, I also understand and agree with his development to date, which is based on who he is. I agree with McL: top-9 foward. Show me.

  9. Jethro Tull says:

    teddyturnbuckle:
    If we have learned anything from our past its that even the best prospects can be ruined (Nuge) by rushing them into a man’s league. We also can’t be scared of a player fleeing to Europe.Either they are committed to learning the North American game long term or they aren’t worth drafting.Jesse is too young and still learning how to play on the small ice. Let him stay down until the Condors season is over.

    Nuge is ruined? When did that happen?

  10. Centre of attention says:

    Will Jesse score more or less than Nuge?

    I know positions are different and usage will be, but will ~50 points be a good line in the sand?

    Maybe he’s like Wheeler and it just takes him awhile to truly become a dominant scorer?

  11. treevojo says:

    Jethro Tull: Nuge is ruined? When did that happen?

    Must have happened today at practice.

  12. Jethro Tull says:

    treevojo: Must have happened today at practice.

    Well, he better wake his 23yo ass up.

  13. teddyturnbuckle says:

    Jethro Tull: Nuge is ruined? When did that happen?

    What do you call going from a terrific prospect to an average 3 line center at best.

  14. trencan says:

    I think some fans judge JP mainly based on tournaments record and have too high expectations immediately. I would focus more on SM Liga stats as it is a longer view on his form with men, no other kids. Some fans also think he will be a sniper like Laine but he is completely different type of player. He will be more complex player, responsible in defense and effective forward. But it takes more time to adapt this type of game for him in North America. And there’s not only game but also lifestyle,language… Jesse is doing fine and I will be happy with 60 point player in top 6. I would like to see him playing with Connor but I also like the future line Lucic-Draisaitl-JP. This could be our secondary scoring line.

  15. treevojo says:

    teddyturnbuckle: What do you call going from a terrific prospect to an average 3 line center at best.

    Progress?

  16. JDΦ says:

    Jethro Tull: his 23yo ass

    Turns 24 this April. You’d better check his expiry date…

    /s

  17. Jethro Tull says:

    teddyturnbuckle: What do you call going from a terrific prospect to an average 3 line center at best.

    Ask Jordan Staal.

    And I’d bet (because hockey decisions are basically wagers) on him rebounding before I’d trade him for a 7th rounder.

  18. Jethro Tull says:

    JDΦ: Turns 24 this April. You’d better check his expiry date…

    /s

    He’s growing up so fast. *sob*

  19. Centre of attention says:

    Just trawling threw spreadsheets and noticed something that made me pause.

    Eberle is 10th all time in Oilers goal scoring. He’s one goal away from tying Horcoff for 9th.

    Maybe lets not get rid of this dude?

    He’s having probably the worst season of his career and still has a good chance of hitting 20 goals.

    Like come on.

  20. Lowetide says:

    Centre of attention:
    Just trawling threw spreadsheets and noticed something that made me pause.

    Eberle is 10th all time in Oilers goal scoring. He’s one goal away from tying Horcoff for 9th.

    Maybe lets not get rid of this dude?

    He’s having probably the worst season of his career and still has a good chance of hitting 20 goals.

    Like come on.

    The only reason to trade Nuge or Eberle is cap. And cap is a concern. That aside, I agree with you.

  21. kinger_OIL says:

    Lowetide: The only reason to trade Nuge or Eberle is cap. And cap is a concern. That aside, I agree with you.

    – I don’t think cap means what you think it means

    – Expressed differently: “the only reason you trade Nuge and/or Ebs is for less/same cap you get same/better production, with players who play a style that the GM/coach see lacking

  22. Centre of attention says:

    Lowetide: The only reason to trade Nuge or Eberle is cap. And cap is a concern. That aside, I agree with you.

    Eberle stays before Nuge.

    Imo.

  23. Lowetide says:

    Centre of attention: Eberle stays before Nuge.

    Imo.

    Agree at this point, but I would love another year for Leon to establish himself.

  24. digger50 says:

    JP was hyped pre draft by so many. As he was so clearly in the first tier we never even discussed him as a possibility. Thus when he dropped there was disbelief and awe all round at our fortune: this is fact.

    So expectations were high by all.

    If we are now trying to temper expectations by stating he may just be a top 9 player, that is highly disappointing.

    I like most here are fine with his development path. Let him come along as he needs to. However I am not ready to drop expectations on him; sure we can see what Todd is doing with his top 9 comment, but I am still holding out for a first line player.

  25. Centre of attention says:

    Lowetide: Agree at this point, but I would love another year for Leon to establish himself.

    Yes. Agree. And if you trade Nuge, it is only with the guarantee of an affordable replacement.

    You cannot just leave a hole gaping. Even if Nuge isn’t scoring consistently he’s still occupying ice time and match ups, generally taking pressure off the other centers.

  26. Lowetide says:

    Centre of attention: Yes. Agree. And if you trade Nuge, it is only with the guarantee of an affordable replacement.

    You cannot just leave a hole gaping. Even if Nuge isn’t scoring consistently he’s still occupying ice time and match ups, generally taking pressure off the other centers.

    Hanzal.

  27. Dicky94 says:

    Centre of attention,

    Sean Couturier

  28. Centre of attention says:

    Lowetide: Hanzal.

    Yeah, Hanzal getting the Pouliot contract makes a little bit of sense.

    Decent comparable dollar wise you think?

  29. Lowetide says:

    Centre of attention: Yeah, Hanzal getting the Pouliot contract makes a little bit of sense.

    Decent comparable dollar wise you think?

    Probably, but other teams will be after Hanzal.

  30. Ice Sage says:

    Sharks in a world of hurt. A real shame.

  31. Scungilli says:

    Good players play 200ft. 100ft players have to be exceptional to cover the bet in a capped league, Centres can play wing, wingers can’t play centre. Forwards can play off wing, defense shouldn’t.

  32. Scungilli says:

    Ice Sage:
    Sharks in a world of hurt.A real shame.

    I just saw and am gutted. Like a fish.

  33. godot10 says:

    Lowetide: Agree at this point, but I would love another year for Leon to establish himself.

    Justin Faulk won’t be available next year, and another year under McLellan for Nugent-Hopkins will damage his trade value.

    Brind’Amour probably still believes in him, and can whisper in Francis’s year.

    #FreeNuge

  34. jonrmcleod says:

    Bakersfield Condors
    @Condors
    CONDORS GOAL!!!!!!! @Jpuljujarvi from @joeylaleggia & @Landie51. 1-0 Condors with 11 min. left. #Condorstown

  35. jonrmcleod says:

    Blackout Dallas
    @BlackoutDallas
    GOAL!! #3 FOR ADAM @ACracknell24!!!! 5-1.

    Adam Cracknell with a hat trick!

  36. Ice Sage says:

    Scungilli: I just saw and am gutted. Like a fish.

    LOL,
    When Adam Cracknell scores a hat-trick SHG on you, times are tough!

  37. Lowetide says:

    Aidan Muir back in the lineup and with an assist for Western Michigan tonight..

  38. jonrmcleod says:

    If the Sharks end up losing 6-1, the Oilers will have a better goal differential.

  39. Lowetide says:

    Caleb Jones with an assist and Bear with two early in the playoffs.

  40. Scungilli says:

    Go Jets!

  41. Woogie63 says:

    When I saw JP in Penticton, I wrote to this blog that his skating was going to a problem at the NHL. He took huge looping turns and a the furthest arc of that turn he was significantly out of position.

    I have watched the last two Condor’s games. He is now stop and starting like a pro hockey player.

    IMO much improved and will translate in the NHL.

  42. JDΦ says:

    Woogie63: He is now stop and starting like a pro hockey player.

    I’m starting to sound like an mp3 player on loop mode (today’s broken record), but I suspect that knee surgery to start his off-season really set him back.

  43. VOR says:

    Some one here asked me a long time ago what it is I think scouts do and now that I have a moment I am going to respond here and hope whoever it was sees the post. I am also hoping it will help people see our young Finn in a different light.

    So scouts do three things:

    1. They reduce the set of all draft eligible players to the set of possible NHL players or maybe we should say the set of “players worth drafting”. It seems simple really, pick the 300 or so young men who are worth picking on draft day. They won’t all be drafted but they will all be followed for at least a few years in case they are going to be good over-age picks or valuable free agent signings someday.

    The problem is that they are picking the 300 from as many as 3,000. Nobody is really sure exactly how many draft eligible kids are actively playing hockey in any given draft year but the number and quality keeps going up and up. That is in no small part because of growing participation in hockey in the United States and a number of European countries.

    Do they do a good job of this first task? By and large yes. But we all know they aren’t perfect. Every year new never drafted free agents show up in the NHL. We should assume from this that there are reasonable odds that Puljujarvi will be an NHLer, he certainly belonged in this set.

    2. They rank the likely to be drafted players from 1 to 217 I guess it will be this year. This is where scouts end up looking like schmucks who can be beaten by a potato. It is demonstrably easier to pick the 300 most likely to succeed players than it is to predict which of those 300 will have meaningful NHL careers.

    I devised a simple test for measuring scouting performance in this task. I began by adding the numbers 1-30 which gives you 465. I reasoned that it is unlikely you will ever get all 30 (now 31) players taken in the first round in the right order but surely you should be capable of getting all the first round talents in the first round. So all you have to do is redraft with perfect hindsight the top 30 players taken in a year and add up their actual draft pick numbers to see how the scouts did.

    The answer is they range from mediocre (1991) 580 to terrible (2003) 1121. And don’t even get me started on 1983.

    So we shouldn’t have taken Puljujarvi’s ranking very seriously since scouts seldom get the rankings right.

    3. They help to develop their team’s draft boards. I have yet to find a team that has 210 names on its draft board. The most I have seen is 100 and many teams it is closer to 60 names they have on their board. So why, well you might ask, have they not run out of names by the time they get to the third round? Because their board reflects the range of players they think might be available to them or useful to them or both. In other words there is a fair amount of knowledge of what other teams are going to do baked into the system and yes there is something that looks suspisciously like drafting for need going on as well.

    We can’t actually discuss Puljujarvi in this light since there is no way he was on the Oilers’ darft board. It is very rare that a team gets blindsided by opportunity like the Oilers did this past draft. Nobody saw that coming. Mostly though the draft plays out the way most teams are expecting most of the time. So scouts overall do an adequate job od reducing the bandwidth of the signal.

    Finally, as for Jesse Puljujarvi, if you were to redraft right now you would have to say he is tracking to be in the top 15 of his draft year. This is great news. The top thirty players in nearly all redfated drafts (ones where all the players are retired) were useful NHLers and the top 15 were usually top line players sooner or later (Peter Nedved or Miro Satan). The Oilers don’t need Puljujarvi to be a superstar, Satan or Nedved will do just fine.

  44. Todd Macallan says:

    Everytime I watch Descheneau play I like him more and more. Beauty saucer pass on the 2 on 1 to put Bakersfield up 2-1 after 2.

    We are always looking for our new Pisani, but I dare say we have our new Winquist playing right under our noses.

  45. JDΦ says:

    Todd Macallan: Everytime I watch Descheneau

    How’s his skating, relative to the AHL level?

  46. CamRent BroBot says:

    JDΦ,

    He isn’t an elite skater by any means. Probably around AHL average , maybe a little quicker. Growing up he always stood out for his hands and passing ability though, which were certainly on display on that Currie goal. I played with him a bit when we were younger and he was always the best on any of our teams. Not sure if he’ll ever make the show but hopefully the way he’s been racking them up lately helps him get a foot in the door.

  47. Todd Macallan says:

    JDΦ,

    Definitely fine for the AHL, quicker than Winquist I’d say, in limited observation. Overall more quick than fast, with a top end speed that needs improving, although he gets enough breakaways at this level that its not a huge concern.

    Edit: See above response for a far more knowledgeable response haha.

  48. Gret99zky says:

    Bakersfield Condors 3 – San Diego Swarm 1

  49. Gret99zky says:

    Bakersfield Condors 4 – San Diego Dementors 1

  50. Todd Macallan says:

    Wow Christoffer with a goal that harkens back to his rookie camp days, what an effort.

  51. Gret99zky says:

    6 vs. 3 PP wow.

  52. Gret99zky says:

    Bakersfield Condors 5 – San Diego Bill of Goods 1

    Jonas Gustavsson scores.

  53. Todd Macallan says:

    Gus with the goal. What a time to be alive.

  54. Lowetide says:

    akersfield Condors‏Verified account @Condors 2m2 minutes ago
    More
    IT’S A GOALIE GOAL! GUSTAVSSON!

  55. Gret99zky says:

    Final Score:

    Bakersfield Condors 5 – San Diego Craig’s On Its 1

  56. Gret99zky says:

    Final Score:

    Anaheim Ducks 3 – Winnipeg Thanks For Nothings 1

  57. commonfan14 says:

    VOR: We can’t actually discuss Puljujarvi in this light since there is no way he was on the Oilers’ darft board.

    The team would have been scouting him heavily right up until the lottery though, right?

  58. Diablo says:

    Lowetide:
    akersfield Condors‏Verified account @Condors2m2 minutes ago
    MoreIT’S A GOALIE GOAL! GUSTAVSSON!

    That’s just an awesome way to conclude his time in North America. Good for Gus.

  59. JDΦ says:

    Gret99zky: San Diego Swarm

    That’s good.

    Gret99zky: San Diego Bill of Goods

    That’s great!

    Gret99zky: San Diego Craig’s On Its

    That’s a cigarette.

  60. Westchester Oil says:

    Anybody have a video link to Gustafsson’s goal?

  61. Chachi says:

    Lowetide:
    akersfield Condors‏Verified account @Condors2m2 minutes ago
    MoreIT’S A GOALIE GOAL! GUSTAVSSON!

    The only thing that could have made that better is if he scored it on Mike Smith while the net was resting on Smith’s head.

  62. Chachi says:

    Westchester Oil:
    Anybody have a video link to Gustafsson’s goal?

    They have it up on the Oilers/Condors twitter feed, but it looks like it was filmed from Zapruder’s condo on the Moon.

  63. OF17 says:

    VOR,

    Very interesting post. I agree with your point. Satan/Nedved would be a successful result for Puljujarvi. A 20G/50P level with responsible defense is about as low as wouldn’t be disappointing for me. Basically a RHW Nuge that shoots more for less money. That being said, we were pretty down on Draisaitl’s offense after his rookie year, and look how things have changed.

    Throughout his career, Puljujarvi has dominated his peers, back to U16 teams. Problem is, he was almost always playing up a level or two, where he struggled to adjust. I know, small sample sizes, but look at what he did at the U20s and U18s last year. Those were the only times he faced his peers in 15/16, and he put up 2.43 and 1.75 PPG. The AHL numbers could be better, but Puljujarvi’s pattern is to have notable adjustment periods to new levels and then greatly improve once more comfortable. Who knows how much he’ll improve at the NHL level, but I think the high-end, Wheeler-esque potential is still there.

  64. judgedrude says:

    I may be late to the game on this one, but it just occurred to me that we have 2 Desharnais’s. I’m not sure how common of a surname that is, but does anyone know whether David and Vincent are related?

  65. maudite says:

    By eye and by most numbers on possession/chances in the limited 11 min per night: he didn’t look too out of place in the NHL. Deployment was fairly wishy washy.

    I’m not too worried about him at this point. I’m pretty sure in a different organization in the right circumstances he’d still probably be in the NHL and looking pretty decent.

    Despite organizational changes I wouldn’t rate edmonton overly high on a prospect development list. Book is early and I think it likely gets better but we shall see.

    I’m glad Drai and PJ rightly ended up in the AHL getting pushes but I don’t think the odd NHL blendering they got first before going there could/will be much of the reason we are counting our lucky stars they are wearing copper and blue. Yes keeping them up likely put enough cash in hand to play NA draft +1 but i think better results could have been achieved in those NHL games with them.

    OF17:
    VOR,

    Very interesting post. I agree with your point. Satan/Nedved would be a successful result for Puljujarvi. A 20G/50P level with responsible defense is about as low as wouldn’t be disappointing for me. Basically a RHW Nuge that shoots more for less money. That being said, we were pretty down on Draisaitl’s offense after his rookie year, and look how things have changed.

    Throughout his career, Puljujarvi has dominated his peers, back to U16 teams. Problem is, he was almost always playing up a level or two, where he struggled to adjust. I know, small sample sizes, but look at what he did at the U20s and U18s last year. Those were the only times he faced his peers in 15/16, and he put up 2.43 and 1.75 PPG. The AHL numbers could be better, but Puljujarvi’s pattern is to have notable adjustment periods to new levels and then greatly improve once more comfortable. Who knows how much he’ll improve at the NHL level, but I think the high-end, Wheeler-esque potential is still there.

  66. Soup Fascist says:

    judgedrude:
    I may be late to the game on this one, but it just occurred to me that we have 2 Desharnais’s.I’m not sure how common of a surname that is, but does anyone know whether David and Vincent are related?

    Vincent is 6’6″ so my guess is David is his HALF cousin.

  67. vishcosity says:

    kinger_OIL: we are in the Florida Keys: my lord what beautiful country

    Try the conch! Best seafood ever. We found some beach side restaurant in Marathon…I actually looked it up. In Matacumbe Key is the Habanos Ocean Front Cafe. I’d buy the key lime candies they give out after dinner.

  68. Woodguy v2.0 says:

    Soup Fascist: Vincent is 6’6″ so my guess is David is his HALF cousin.

    Well done.

  69. SayItAin'tSo, Gretz, SayItAin'tSo! says:

    Ice Sage,

    Scungilli,

    I was saying back in January that San Jose had a brutal end to March and given their age and the amount of hockey their guys have played all the Oilers had to do in the mean time was keep it close.

    Of course I didn’t know they’d lose 5 straight (maybe six they play again tonight in Nashville) but that division title is totally up for grabs now!

    Oilers play the Sharks twice more and the Ducks once and have three left against Van (2x) and Colorado tonight.

    Go Oilers!

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