As fans and observers of the Edmonton Oilers, we can get ahead of ourselves when it comes to projecting young players into the NHL, or veterans into new roles. The truth is most positional tweaks discussed in summer die on the vine when the leaves turn (witness Leon at center one year ago) and the hopes and dreams surrounding up and coming amateur talent also falls short. What is a fan looking for the truth to do? Ask the coach, and then think about why the coach gave you his answer. There’s always a reason and it’s most often a good one.
- Dallas Eakins: “If (Lander) is going to play here, he has to be able to play centre, he has to play left-wing and he has to play right-wing. He has to be able to step in on the power play and kill penalties. He has to be able to wear a bunch of different hats.”
For Dallas Eakins, he saw Lander as a utility player (foot speed was the issue imo) and clearly believed the player was far from a lock on the roster (Will Acton eventually winning the job). A team hires a coach to assess and deploy, and (most of the time) the coach is straightforward about his thinking.
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- New Lowetide: Oilers waiver options.
- Black Dog Pat: Yeah, sure (prospects past, JP and KY)
- Corey Pronman: Edmonton: Complete prospect ranking.
- Lowetide: Stuart Skinner’s net worth.
- Lowetide: Assessing the cost of the Oilers ill-advised AHL experiment.
- Jonathan Willis: No. 12 prospect—Joel Persson.
- Blackdog Pat: There won’t ever be another Stan Mikita.
- Lowetide: No. 13 prospect—Ostap Safin
- Jonathan Willis: No. 14 prospect—Olivier Rodrigue
- Lowetide: No. 15 prospect—William Lagesson
- Jonathan Willis: No. 16 prospect—Cameron Hebig
- Lowetide: No. 17 prospect—Graham McPhee
- Jonathan Willis: No. 18 prospect—Ryan Mantha
- Lowetide: No. 19 prospect—John Marino
- Jonathan Willis: No. 20 prospect—Tyler Vesel
- Lowetide: Top 20 prospects: Forwards outside the top 20
- Jonathan Willis: Are Hayden Hawkey and Phil Kemp underrated gems?
- Lowetide: Oilers 2013 draft: Two NHL players and one crazy trade.
- Lowetide: Some lingering questions about Oilers 2018 draft and evaluating goalies.
- Lowetide: Oilers training camp: 28 men for 23 jobs.
- Lowetide: Is Evan Bouchard NHL-ready?
- Lowetide: The maturation of Daryl Katz, or heading down a dangerous road?
TODD MCLELLAN TALKS JESSE PULJUJARVI
- “We’ve wanted to hurry him from the beginning. We thought he was ready. And at times last year he showed that he was. Then there were other times where he fell off. It’s hard to imagine he’s still a very, very young player. He’s such a big man. He’s a mature player off the ice. He’s a maturing player on the ice. I think we still have a diamond in the rough. I think that the belief system in him is still at very high level. He’ll have to learn to produce on a more consistent basis. But he’ll do that over time.” Source
Puljujarvi’s 2017-18 season was one wild ride. I chronicle all of the games the following morning, let’s have a quick look through JP’s early season.
- Game One, versus NY Rangers November 11 (scored). Fantastic return! Music! I thought he was fast, strong and played an intelligent two-way game. Source
- Game 10, versus Calgary Flames December 2 (scored twice). Six shots on goal! Huzzah! Music! Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi went 15-9, 2-0 in GF and 3-5 in HDSC. Line scored 3-3-6, Puljujarvi scored twice and that’s a big damned deal. Line went 11-9 against Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik, 2-0 in GF. That’s a helluva battle but I think 97 won the day. JP, man. The Finnish Horse. Source
- Game 15, versus Nashville Predators (-2). Two individual high danger scoring chances, so close. Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi were 21-13 (McDavid-Puljujarvi) and 15-13 (McDavid-Lucic) with another 4-0 McDavid-Slepyshev and 3-1 McDavid-Khaira. Folks, we’re going to see ML moving off this line soon, no doubt in my mind. I’m a fan of the big man, but passes have to be concise or they just bounce off of him now. Slepy, Khaira or maybe Caggiula could replace him, but it’s probably going to be Maroon. Trio went 9-6 against Johansen line. McDavid took a frustration penalty in a bad spot, that probably comes from getting the squeeze from officials. I can’t blame him, but he put his team in a tough spot. Puljujarvi had some 10-bell chances, just a little shy on getting there in time. He’s coming along nicely. Source
- Game 16, versus Minnesota Wild (one goal). He is winning a job on 97’s line. Lucic-McDavid-Puljujarvi posted four points on the night, I think that was the best game we’ve seen from Lucic. He was a big part of the win. Puljujarvi drove to the net and lingered, that’s music! McDavid made a dandy play against Niederreiter that may have saved a goal and was his normal dangerous. He’s rocking the casbah at full health now. Line went 10-10 in 9:04, 3-1 in HD and 9-10 against Granlund-Koivu-Niederreiter. Source
After 16 games, Jesse Puljujarvi produced 6-2-8, plus 7 and had 42 shots on goals. That’s the player Edmonton needs and he was playing mostly with Connor McDavid. Later in the year nothing rhymed for the young Finn, but there was chem early. It will take a commitment from everyone involved, but the ideal outcome is McDavid-Puljujarvi based on age and skill set. That would allow McLellan to move Ryan Nugent-Hopkins onto a potentially explosive second line with Leon Draisaitl. Who plays left wing with 97? Lucic is the player I expect to play a prominent role, perhaps with McDavid.
AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT
In yesterday’s blog posts, Woodguy posted the following: In regards to both Lucic in the top 6 and where JP starts, I think this is worth re-visiting:
- 48 minutes (micro sample)
- CF% 53.6
- Scoring Chance % 65.9
- High Danger Scoring Chance % 76.9
- Goals % 33 (2-4)
Small sample, but they seems to own the ice except for goals, I’d try that again. Here’s Lucic-Draisaitl without Puljujvarvi:
- CF% 51.3
- Scoring Chance % 50.5
- High Danger Scoring Chance % 48.7
- Goals % 38.5 (10-16)
That duo seemed to have benefited from Puljujarvi quite a bit. I think we see that at some point in pre-season.
I’d give money to hear the conversation between Todd McLellan and each player involved in this situation, to hear what the new coaches told him about that line and its usage. It could be a surprising preseason.
CERTAIN OILERS 2018-19
- I ran these tables at the beginning of August, got some interesting feedback and wanted to discuss a little more.
- I think the forwards listed are in fact the locks, Drake Caggiula’s contract puts him ahead of Pontus Aberg.
- I ran this as lines and pairings, hopefully we see Puljujarvi up the lineup in training camp, preseason and into the regular year. Rieder on the No. 3 line would be a luxury but could be key to an effective line on the depth chart.
UNCERTAIN OILERS 2018-19
- There are likely to be additions to this list, PTO’s like Jason Chimera, Lance Bouma and others should be announced in the coming days.
- I think Aberg makes the team and Kailer Yamamoto gets sent out, but suspect there is zero chance both men make the club.
- The PTO’s will likely impact the center position, Brad Malone is the 14F (No. 5 C) at this point and the Oilers will want some cover.
- The open defensive spot appears to be fairly open for competition, moreso than anywhere else on the roster. I think Gravel wins the day.
- Mikko Koskinen has the backup job locked up if he has 10 fingers and toes and can show well in preseason. He is a big favourite to win the job but I can’t count him as a sure thing yet.
DISTANT BELLS 2018-19
- William Lagesson, Caleb Jones, Tyler Benson and Joe Gambardella are my picks to be the final group sent out from this list.
- Josh Currie could surprise, he won an NHL contract and the team may want to reward/have a look at him until later in camp.