Jesse Puljujarvi’s agent opened the door a little yesterday. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves but it does give us a chance to discuss the player and why he’s so important to the Oilers.
The Athletic Edmonton features a fabulous cluster of stories (some linked below, some on the site). Great perspective from a ridiculous group of writers and analysts. Proud to be part of the group, here’s an incredible Offer!
- New Lowetide: Projecting Darnell Nurse’s next contract and possible trades
- New Daniel Nugent-Bowman: A missing mom, aching feet and looking for Kevin Lowe: A week in the life of Oilers prospect Raphael Lavoie
- New Lowetide: What to do when Connor McDavid rests: The Oilers’ ideal No. 2 line for 2019-20
- Lowetide: Adding a scorer will be Ken Holland’s first big move as Oilers GM
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: What the Oilers’ depth chart looks like now and where they go from here
- Jonathan Willis: How often do goalies like the Oilers’ Mike Smith rebound?
- Lowetide: Ken Holland’s roster moves clear the way for Oilers top prospects Tyler Benson and Kailer Yamamoto.
- Jonathan Willis: Oilers GM Ken Holland promises long-term rewards for an approach light on short-term improvements
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Trade market now most likely place for Oilers to find scoring winger
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: ‘He comes as advertised’: Philip Broberg’s skating makes him development camp standout for Oilers
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Oilers plan to skew younger on defence could open the door for Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov
- Lowetide: Oilers top 20 prospects summer 2019.
- Lowetide: Are these Jesse Puljujarvi’s final days with the Edmonton Oilers?
- Daniel Nugent-Bowman: Ranking the Oilers’ trade assets from the high-priced diamonds to those needing fresh starts
- Lowetide: Oilers GM Ken Holland is shopping for 20-goal scorers on a budget. What will he find?
How could the Oilers (and NHL scouts) be so wrong about Jesse Puljujarvi? Is it possible the Aho-Laine connection pushed JP along? That’s a reflection with legs, but no one could reasonably have predicted this career path.
How bad is it? Not bat at all, once you let the proper air out of JP’s offense. Let’s start with Puljujarvi as a player and his offensive ability from draft year through today.
2015-16 Sm-Liiga: 50, 13-15-28 (NHLE: 21.6)
2016-17 AHL: 39, 12-16-28 (NHLE: 27.6)
2017-18 NHL 65, 12-8-20 (NHLE: 25.2)
2018-19 NHL 45, 4-5-9 (NHLE: 16.4)
Offensively, the scouting reports may have been shy. However, he’s a big, strong winger, with a quick release. Great passing, transports the puck well, I thought his positioning was often on point. That’s a nice resume, even without the projected offense. JP is no longer a No. 4 overall pick, but he has value. Ideally, Dave Tippett gets a chance to unlock the player in 2019-20. He doesn’t riff well with the captain but the numbers are strong with McDavid.
HOLLAND’S BETS VERSUS CHIARELLI’S BETS
Do you remember when Peter Chiarelli would talk about his ’94’s? He had a large group of forwards, born in 1994, and needed at least two to cash as useful top-9 forwards. Here’s what each man did during the Chiarelli era:
Drake Caggiula 182, 32-29-61 .335
Jujhar Khaira 154, 15-27-42 .272
Anton Slepyshev 102, 10-13-23 .225
None of these men emerged as consistent top-9 options during Chiarelli’s time and only Khaira remains. It was not a successful endeavor. Holland has (potentially) a better group to bet on:
Jesse Puljujarvi 139, 17-20-37 .266
Kailer Yamamoto 26, 1-4-5 .192
Tyler Benson 68, 15-51-66 in Bakersfield
Kirill Maksimov 63, 40-39-79 with Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
Holland, and the Oilers, badly need one of these men to cash and soon. I think Benson and Puljujarvi (should he sign) will play in the NHL this season, not as certain about Yamamoto and Maksimov is probably in the mix a year from now.
Holland is betting on internal options for the skill lines, this much is true. Adding Puljujarvi to this group helps, but JP may be on the third line for more of his NHL career than anticipated on draft day.
What is Holland thinking? At this point I imagine he’ll attempt to find one or two reasonable scoring options (Sven Baertschi may shake loose) to the current group. Holland needs what Peter Chiarelli badly needed and never received: A substantial scoring option to replace Taylor Hall. Replacing Hall isn’t Holland’s fault, but it is his responsibility. No matter what happens to Jesse, he is not the answer to the Hall issue, and Holland hasn’t yet made an attempt to replace Hall’s production.
I believe, and have said, Holland has kicked that problem down the road to next summer. We don’t know how deep the team went on truly skilled free agents, only that he didn’t grab one and that (free agency) is his modus operandi. Holland is willing to sacrifice the 2020 playoffs in order to set up next season. I can’t say he’s wrong. In the meantime, Dave Tippett has one year to find useful soldiers. I sincerely hope Jesse Puljujarvi is one of them.