The Lost Highway

by Lowetide
Photo by Mark Williams

Mark Spector breaks a lot of stories, and it looks like he has another in regard to Jesse Puljujarvi’s possible return to the Edmonton Oilers. Story is here.

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PULJUJARVI’S SPOT IN THE BATTING ORDER

I want to make a point, but before I do, I have to make another point. I’m about to suggest JP as No. 3 right wing in 2020-21, but want to make it clear that he would have success playing on the top line. For his brief career so far, JP scores 2.06 per 60 at five-on-five when playing with Connor McDavid, and the duo drills opponents at 55 percent Corsi for five-on-five. I don’t know why the math loves their chemistry while there was apparently none in real life, but down the line, maybe in the playoffs when the season is on the line and all else has failed, this could be considered an option. Here, are the five-on-five per 60 scoring numbers by Edmonton’s wingers with McDavid in 2018-19:

  1. Leon Draisaitl 3.35 (805 minutes)
  2. Drake Caggiula 2.54 (141 minutes)
  3. Zack Kassian 1.96 (428 minutes)
  4. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins 1.91 (376 minutes)
  5. Milan Lucic 1.83 (98 minutes)
  6. Jesse Puljujarvi 1.80 (67 minutes)
  7. Ty Rattie 1.72 (244 minutes)
  8. Alex Chiasson 1.48 (284 minutes)
  9. Jujhar Khaira 0.93 (64 minutes)
  10. Kailer Yamamoto 0.00 (84 minutes)

In August of 2019, when he made it official, I wrote the following in a post on this blog called ‘So Long and thanks for all the Fish’:

I sincerely hope Jesse Puljujarvi finds his way, first in Finland and then in the NHL. He is looking for his own place in the sun, you can’t blame a man for being restless to find home. Sail on, Kajaanin Hokki, you came to us in a time of great confusion. Don’t you dare let this experience define you. Keep smiling, big man. We won’t forget you.”

SWEDISH POSTER’S UPDATE (All words by SP)

Nice early arrow for Broberg. Had an assist, played on PP2(PP1 was all forwards) and started the 3on3 ot.

Getting a good chance in early exhibition is one thing, the next step is hanging on to that opportunity, SHL coaches are notoriously hard on young D once the real games get going, especially if the team is losing and he will see his ice time fade for stretches but it’s clear they see him as a top 4 option going in. I wouldn’t count on him being top 2 in ice time going forward but if he manages to hold that spot and establish himself as a top pairing SHL D that would be quite impressive. Run with it Phil, rum with it!

Filip Berglund has also been on the top pairing for Linköping to start. And Lennström scored yesterday. Now we just need Lavoie to force himself into Rögle’s top six and PP1 and we’re cooking over here!

(Ftr I’d be very happy if Lavoie could take hold of a top 9 spot and get the occasional shot on PP2, major major difference between the Q and the SHL, if he can make a somewhat smooth transition that’ll tell us a lot about his hockey IQ and coachability).

WHAT TO DO WITH JP

I think we’ll see Ken Holland acquire a veteran No. 3 center over the summer, maybe Finn Erik Haula shakes loose. Puljujarvi has some obvious talents, but badly needs a season where his skill set matches the NHL job available. Third line work will be a challenge and he might eventually move past Kassian and form a strong 1-2 right wing combination with Kailer Yamamoto.

If Puljujarvi signs, massive credit will be due Ken Holland. He played this like Fred MacMurray in My Three Sons.

LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE

A fun Friday morning in August, we kickstart the weekend at 10 on TSN1260. Steve Lansky from Inside the Truck will talk lazy sports television, Dale Hawerchuk and the best hockey team in Canada. Conor McKenna from TSN 690 sets up the Habs-Flyers game tonight at 11. 10-1260 text, @Lowetide on twitter. See you on the radio!

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Todd Macallan

More good news re: Oilers finding a place to play until next season begins. As per Jack Michael’s, Nygard has been lent to Farjestad.

Scungilli Slushy

It’s been a treat watching Holland do these.

Before it would have been loans to the East Alabama Roller Hockey League and Bronx Roller Derby Association. With no out clauses in the contracts.

pts2pndr

Given JP’s defensive ability, size and ability to carry the puck It has been my belief that he is miscast as a winger and would flourish as an NHL defensive centre. With his size and strength face offs should be a strength and he has the wingspan of a condor for penalty killing. Centre would also allow him to utilize what I like to call his free spirit. When I first watched him at the Young Stars Tournament, he was always the first forward hustling back on defence.

Woogie63

It appears that Ken Holland understands a thing or two about being an NHL general manager.

LadiesloveSmid

I know Stauffer always hinted at the fact that 97/29 don’t like playing with JP. I’d prefer if they sucked it up, but that was the verbal.

AA-Haula-JP? Gonna be a tough summer of making the money work

LadiesloveSmid

I am an AA fan. Maybe he goes the route of Ryan Spooner & mysteriously fizzles out at 26 but I think they should qualify him.

Elgin R

McDavid is the absolute leader on the Oilers and needs to make it work with JP. Now, the onus is on JP, and I hope his english is acceptable, but the math supports this lineup given the available talent on the right wing.

Having JP as #1RW would make a stronger 3rd line with Kassian and allow Holland to trade Chiasson.

The Euros getting places to play is expected. Nice to see Lavoie get a spot as well.

IF JP plays #1RW, Holland / Tippet need to decide is #1LW or #3C more important. I would go after Haula as #3C, he is UFA and not that expensive.

Woogie63

Tippet to Kassian, Yamamoto, Puljarjari, Archibald – your homework for the fall is to work on your face-off skills.

Ribs

I read the Spector headline too quickly and now “Puljujarvito” will be stuck in my head forever.

flea

I believe the negative verbal around AA is to try and get him to sign a slightly longer term, smaller cap hit contract.

Not a great summer to be a free agent. Oilers are leveraging that to try and get him for less.

Oil2Oilers

Beyond his hockey playing ability, and its possible positive impact on the Oilers, Puljujarvi is a fine young man. I wish him all the success in the world.

Remember the All Star break when most of his teammates had jetted off to Cabo or the like, and Jesse said in Edmonton and played shinny with the neighborhood kids on an outdoor rink? That is as beautiful a hockey story as you will ever hear.

dustrock

LadiesloveSmid:
I know Stauffer always hinted at the fact that 97/29 don’t like playing with JP. I’d prefer if they sucked it up, but that was the verbal.

AA-Haula-JP? Gonna be a tough summer of making the money work

Yeah to me it was a foregone conclusion. You think McDavid envisioned having Ty Rattie as his winger?

Woogie63

Oil2Oilers,

I remember that story and thought this kids has no relationship with his teammates- young men like to hang out with friends.

Bohologo

Flames go home devastated!

(Yes, being an Oilers fan frequently means being unable to enjoy your team’s success, so happiness must be found in the misery of others [who, to be fair, entirely deserve their misery {schadenfreude FTW!}]).

GordieHoweHatTrick

pts2pndr: I don’t know why the math loves their chemistry while there was apparently none in real life, but down the line, maybe in the playoffs when the season is on the line and all else has failed, this could be considered an option

Agree. His skillset and playing style suggest C. I just don’t know where they find the runway to try this out at this point in his career…

GordieHoweHatTrick

LT ” I don’t know why the math loves their chemistry while there was apparently none in real life, but down the line, maybe in the playoffs when the season is on the line and all else has failed, this could be considered an option”

Hopefully they have a handle on his capacity for 1RW role well before “Break Glass In Case of Emergency”. It probably requires a little open-mindedness from teammates and coaches…

GordieHoweHatTrick

flea:
I believe the negative verbal around AA is to try and get him to sign a slightly longer term, smaller cap hit contract.

Not a great summer to be a free agent. Oilers are leveraging that to try and get him for less.

I think so too. I can’t believe that KH would give up 2nds for someone he doesn’t have significant confidence in to fit somewhere in this line-up.
A lot of poker faces are going to be seen between now and next season.

GordieHoweHatTrick

Oil2Oilers:
Beyond his hockey playing ability, and its possible positive impact on the Oilers, Puljujarvi is a fine young man. I wish him all the success in the world.

Remember the All Star break when most of his teammates had jetted off to Cabo or the like, and Jesse said in Edmonton and played shinny with the neighborhood kids on an outdoor rink? That is as beautiful a hockey story as you will ever hear.

Was it AllStar break or Christmas??…regardless, my heart grew two sizes that day.

godot10

Just suggesting stuff mode ON:

What about Kris Russell for David Rittich? (if we can’t get Derek Ryan for him).

If the Flames really want Taylor Hall, why not Kris Russell for Rittich AND Ryan.

godot10

If Jesse is coming back, having Granlund around would be a big plus.

jp

LadiesloveSmid:
I know Stauffer always hinted at the fact that 97/29 don’t like playing with JP. I’d prefer if they sucked it up, but that was the verbal.

AA-Haula-JP? Gonna be a tough summer of making the money work

Haula would be a spectacular add IMO. But yeah, will be difficult to make it work.

AA-Haula-JP could make sense.

FWIW Neal-Perron were Haula’s primary wingers a couple of years back with Vegas. (Neal scored 25G, 44Pts, Haula scored 29G, 55Pts, Perron 16G, 66Pts). So Neal could be an option as well.

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

jp,

Main concern there is that the hard minutes line is still woefully deficient.

Elgin R

godot10,

Derek Ryan would be an acceptable 3C. Right shot and 29 points last year. They need D and could use KRusty. Interesting!

barry.moore23

That Swedish Poster is a hell of a guy (easy for me to say since I don’t live with him/her 🙂 ) and always appreciate his input even tho I know little or nothing about the leagues over that way.

Munny

LT said,

Ftr I’d be very happy if Lavoie could take hold of a top 9 spot and get the occasional shot on PP2, major major difference between the Q and the SHL, if he can make a somewhat smooth transition that’ll tell us a lot about his hockey IQ and coachability

Some very astute words there, LT.

Bohologo

barry.moore23:
That Swedish Poster is a hell of a guy (easy for me to say since I don’t live with him/her ) and always appreciate his input even tho I know little or nothing about the leagues over that way.

+1, SwedishPoster is pure awesome.

Scungilli Slushy

godot10:
Just suggesting stuff mode ON:

What about Kris Russell for David Rittich?(if we can’t get Derek Ryan for him).

If the Flames really want Taylor Hall,why not Kris Russell for Rittich AND Ryan.

Ryan would be a perfect fit as 3RC.

Get Dowd from The Cape who I’m sure will shake up things. He’s at 750K. Doesn’t score a lot but reliable.

You can let Ennis go though if he’s healthy I like him. Let Sheahan go. Trade AC bcs Neal is likely staying.

The question is the rest of the cusp riders.

AA Ryan Haas

Khaira Dowd Nygard

Benson

To me that looks like right side faceoffs improved, far more plus skating, and more skill than last year. I can see those lines outscoring equivalents or at least breaking even, and having adequate defensive ability.

dustrock

The Flames’ entire 1st line of Lindholm-Monahan-Gaudreau didn’t have a 5v5 point the entire series.

That’s insane.

I don’t want to sound like one of those guys, but with the Oilers, Leafs and Flames all gone, I do wonder about skill being squeezed out by systems, speed and physicality in the playoffs.

jp

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual:
jp,

Main concern there is that the hard minutes line is still woefully deficient.

This is true, but you don’t HAVE to run a line with 30% Ozone starts.

Sheahan’s line didn’t face overly tough comp either, while Haas was getting super soft comp with average zone starts.

A Haula line could easily take on equivalent comp to Sheahan as long as they aren’t always buried in the D zone.

Sharing the load a little more evenly among the 4 lines is absolutely an option IMO (though agreed, he is not a great fit if Tippett is going to run the same deployment as this season).

Todd Macallan

Me thinks we will be relying on Swedish Poster a lot over the next few months at least, what with half our roster over there I. The SHL.

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual

jp,

I agree with your take there. I get the impression Tip likes having a dedicated shutdown line, but I can’t say I’ve checked back into his time with the Yotes. Maybe he felt forced to play a hard minutes line to maximize this roster (though, I don’t think that’s what he did).

When all is said and done, I think the successful hard minutes guy will be cheaper and more beneficial to the team than the moderate depth scorer.

Of course, if you can find a get both, that’d be magical!

Munny

The one drawback to Ryan (besides the one that he plays for another team) is that he has been hiding from the Elites most of us career…

#Shelterfromthestorm

Brogan Rafferty's Uncle Steve

Elite penalty killer Toby Rieder -2 in the Flames loss. Sad we let him go.

John Chambers

godot10:
Just suggesting stuff mode ON:

What about Kris Russell for David Rittich?(if we can’t get Derek Ryan for him).

If the Flames really want Taylor Hall,why not Kris Russell for Rittich AND Ryan.

You think León Draisaitl wants to share a room with “No Save Dave”?

If he so much as dropped his stick by accident in practice …

tavvey tune

Bohologo: +1, SwedishPoster is pure awesome.

Swedishposter is an anagram of “shrewd e-posits”

John Chambers

Rickety Cricket:
Elite penalty killer Toby Rieder -2 in the Flames loss. Sad we let him go.

I was delighted to see Lucic take two bad penalties that led to Dallas goals last night.

He also blocked a Calgary shot-on-goal with his foot hulking in front of Khudobin to end game 5. Not much value in screening the goalie if you’re the one preventing the shots from getting through.

tavvey tune

My Three Sons. Wow, thanks LT, I haven’t thought about that show for a long time.
When we were kids we substituted the word “Sons” for various body parts. Glad I’m so much more mature now.

London Jon

Woogie63:
Oil2Oilers,

I remember that story and thought this kids has no relationship with his teammates- young men like to hang out with friends.

Not speaking the language doesn’t help you to make friends to hang out with. Or learn systems from your coaches. Or learn anything from your coaches.

He’d better be fluent by now…

Pescador

Munny:
The one drawback to Ryan (besides the one that he plays for another team) is that he has been hiding from the Elites most of us career…

#Shelterfromthestorm

I don’t see Ryan as anything more than an expensive 4C at this point in his career. Good face off guy but
He will be 34 in December.
I would rather have Haas or McLeod in that spot next season

Pescador

Pescador,

As for the 3C; aim higher

OriginalPouzar

Very positive news from Spector yesterday but I won’t get overly excited until I read the pen has been put to paper and he is planning on coming to camp to compete for a roster spot.

I anticipate the contract will be in and around $1M – I’ve seen in weeks past some suggesting a cap hit around $2M or so but, really, he has to prove to be able to play in the NHL prior to getting that type of deal, doesn’t he? I don’t imagine Kenny would bring him back for that type of comp.

Now, in my opinion, Jesse comes to camp with a contract and competes for a roster and lineup spot. I would go in to camp with the expectation that he will absolutely earn a middle 6 winger spot.

At the same time, without gifting him any sort of top 6 spot, to the extent his effort and play in camp warrant it, an opportunity in the top 6 would be explored and for all we know he runs with it.

Yamamoto is locked in as Drai’s RW but Kassian is not as McDavid’s – Puljujarvi should be in that battle.

Similar, Nuge is locked in as a top 6 LW but noone else is – Benson should be in that battle.

Yes, Bouchard should be in the battle for a roster RD spot as well but he has to beat out incumbents that have earned spots ahead of him (both Larsson and Bear as top 4 RD and Benning as a 3RD).

Go Jesse!

Go Tyler!

Go Evan!

Munny

Pescador: I don’t see Ryan as anything more than an expensive 4C at this point in his career. Good face off guy but
He will be 34 in December.
I would rather have Haas or McLeod in that spot next season

Dallas Stars had $815 in cap space this season. Darcy McLeod carries More in his wallet on a trip to the liquor store.

I wonder if RFA Faksa can be had from Dally… if the Stars are serious about re-signing Khudobin. Because RFA Guryanov is also going to get a raise.

OriginalPouzar

Erik Haula should be a primary UFA target on the premise that his AAV/Cap hit will be cheaper coming of a down year and that he could play 3C on a value contract.

He is coming off an AAV of $2.75M – can he be signed for cheaper, in the $2.25M range?

Decidedly Skeptical Fan

London Jon: Not speaking the language doesn’t help you to make friends to hang out with. Or learn systems from your coaches. Or learn anything from your coaches.

He’d better be fluent by now…

Haha … hahahaha. Good luck with that. Ken better get his future linemates, whoever they might be, to polish up on their Finnish. How’s McDavid again on Finnish as a second language? Draisaitl?

Munny

Bohologo: Flames go home devastated!

I fell asleep about half way through the 2nd last night so I caught most of the fireworks, (although my memory of the goals seems to be coated in sleep haze) but it would have been nice to see the looks on the Flames faces as they filed off the ice.

For some reason “Spread Joy, not Sheet,” sticks out clearly in my mind from the broadcast lol.

OriginalPouzar

LadiesloveSmid:
I know Stauffer always hinted at the fact that 97/29 don’t like playing with JP. I’d prefer if they sucked it up, but that was the verbal.

AA-Haula-JP? Gonna be a tough summer of making the money work

Stauffer would know better than me (a true outsider) but there has never been anything verified on what the issues are and with whom.

There has been various smoke bubbles on this so maybe there is something to it – some sort of rift between JP and McDavid/Drai – whether on the ice or off the ice or a combo.

If that is the case, I wouldn’t just prefer that the guys “suck it up” – I would expect it and be highly disappointed if they wouldn’t or couldn’t.

On the assumption that Jesse can help this hockey team – whether in the middle six or the top 6, McDavid and Drai (and whoever) should accept him in to the room and on the ice.

Wins are what matter.

Unless Jesse is just a complete asshole or something along those lines, which is tough to think is the case, put the differences aside and win some hockey games!

jp

Unfriendly Regional Arachnid Individual:
jp,

I agree with your take there. I get the impression Tip likes having a dedicated shutdown line, but I can’t say I’ve checked back into his time with the Yotes. Maybe he felt forced to play a hard minutes line to maximize this roster (though, I don’t think that’s what he did).

When all is said and done, I think the successful hard minutes guy will be cheaper and more beneficial to the team than the moderate depth scorer.

Of course, if you can find a get both, that’d be magical!

I don’t disagree at all with this.

But a Haula add and something resembling 3 scoring lines would be awfully nice to see.

That AND a competent shutdown line would be manna, and probably too much to even hope for (but here’s hoping!)

OriginalPouzar

LadiesloveSmid:
I am an AA fan. Maybe he goes the route of Ryan Spooner & mysteriously fizzles out at 26 but I think they should qualify him.

The risk is, once the qualifying offer is submitted, AA files for arbitration and gets an award above the $3M and less than the apx $4.6M walk away threshold.

Given his 30 goal season that he could use as evidence, there is risk there I think.

With that said, I absolutely agree they shouldn’t just walk away from the player.

He had a shitty year and as shitty 13 games as an Oiler. He didn’t look smart on the ice or that he was developing chemistry with any other forwards. At the same time, it was 13 games split by 5 months.

He has a history of producing in and round 1.8-2.2 P/60.

I hope that Holland is able to get him signed for around his QO (or maybe even a bit less for term) prior to actually formally submitting in and taking away the arb risk.

I am fine with having him back for 1 X $3M – he very well could outperform that contract and he’d still be an RFA.

jp

Munny:
The one drawback to Ryan (besides the one that he plays for another team) is that he has been hiding from the Elites most of us career…

#Shelterfromthestorm

This is most definitely true, and part of the reason it’s plausible he could be available. I’d very gladly move him for Russell if that were on the table, knowing full well he’s always been sheltered.

leadfarmer

hopefully they question Johnny Gaudreaus leadership and then trade him for a bag of pucks