Where does Jesse Joensuu fit?

Jonathan Willis
July 28 2013 12:21PM

Superficially, the Oilers top six appears to be all but written in stone. Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Nail Yakupov are all cornerstone pieces. David Perron and Sam Gagner are both established top-six forwards at the NHL level at an extremely young age that still have 10-15 years of high-level hockey ahead of them.

But as I think about it, I can’t help wondering if there isn’t a chance for Jesse Joensuu somewhere, either in that top-six group or in the top-nine.

Doug Weight

Doug Weight was on Oilers Now on Friday. Everybody remembers Weight’s time with Edmonton; these days he’s in management with the New York Islanders and so has some inside knowledge on Joensuu. When asked about the player by Bob Stauffer, here’s what he had to say:

Three years ago he was here, and he wasn’t in shape and he was still young. This year he came back and he is fit now, he’s living the right way, he’s very focused. It was unfortunate for him the minute he got here in camp, he had a nagging problem throughout the summer, you know those hernias that everybody gets, and he had to take care of it. With a shortened season he was never able to get off the ground here. Very big kid, he will take the puck to the net; he’s going to compete. He came in and played a game in the playoffs for us and really competed, he played physical and he’s a big Finnish kid that’s going to score some goals around the net. You mix him with, I mean obviously the list of your talent up front is ridiculous with RNH and Eberle and Hall and Sam [Gagner] and now David Perron; you guys got so many guys, it’s crazy. He’ll be able to fit in there and be able to contribute.

A year ago, many who followed the Oilers felt that Teemu Hartikainen had a chance to break into a top-six role in Edmonton coming out of the lockout because he had size, some scoring, and a power game – in other words, he was a good fit skillset-wise for the talent Edmonton had. He didn’t pan out, and with the addition of David Perron and a year of growth for Nail Yakupov it’s harder to land a top-six job in Edmonton now than it was then. However, Joensuu appeals for the same reasons: he has the right complementary skillset for the forward group Edmonton currently employs.

The Numbers

Rob Vollman has overhauled NHL Translations – the number that tells us how many points to expect in the majors from a player who spent last year in the AHL or Finland or Sweden or wherever – in his new book, looking at how the most recent wave of players has performed in the NHL. I have used his numbers for the AHL (for players under the age of 23, as age matters) and gone for a 50/50 split between his historical numbers in other leagues and his current numbers (the current numbers do a better job of showing what’s happening right now, but suffer from a smaller number of evaluated players).

Here’s what Jesse Joensuu’s scoring numbers translate to over an 82-game NHL season, using my adaptation of Vollman’s numbers.

What It Means

Joensuu’s scoring in other leagues suggests that he can contribute more than he did in his lone extended NHL audition. It may be that he’s simply less effective than most players in the NHL, or it may be that he simply had a bad run in that one year. Regardless, it does seem unlikely that Joensuu can provide enough offensive punch to ride shotgun for a skill line.

Where he might have an opportunity is on the third line, which right now seems likely to be Boyd Gordon at centre, Ales Hemsky at right wing, and ??? at left wing. Lowetide wrote about this yesterday and favours Ryan Smyth for the role, while Ryan Jones seems to be the consensus choice. Joensuu is the third logical candidate on the roster for the job – his totals put him in the range offensively with the other two, he’s bigger and younger and the new management liked him enough to give him a two-season deal.

Right now it looks like that third line job is going to be one of the most competitive in training camp; the battle could be even more pivotal if Dallas Eakins does something unexpected to try and get a little more size into the top six.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Leafs Nation, Jeff Veillette looks at the possibility of Toronto trading Cody Franson. He isn't thrilled by the idea:

This was never a good idea. The circumstances that lead up to this were very short sighted. The response from those excited on July 5th was "well, if there is a cap issue, we won't have to worry about it for YEARS!". It's been three weeks. The Leafs are going to be stuck giving away one of the league's better offensive defenceman, at a still growth-friendly age, for peanuts. Amazing.

Click the link above to read more. Otherwise, feel free to read some of my recent pieces:

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Jonathan Willis is Managing Editor of the Nation Network. He also currently writes for the Edmonton Journal's Cult of Hockey, Grantland, and Hockey Prospectus. His work has appeared at theScore, ESPN and Puck Daddy. He was previously founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue. Contact him at jonathan (dot) willis (at) live (dot) ca.
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#51 MKE
July 29 2013, 04:26AM
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DSF wrote:

Unfortunately, games are played now not in some indeterminate future.

Franson is a better offensive and defensive defenseman that Schultz right NOW.

That he is a couple of years older doesn't mean much.

It just means he has more experience playing in the NHL.

Schultz may have a slightly higher upside based on that age difference but I'd wager it won't be by much.

Slightly higher upside?

Never mind that Schultz already is a much better offensive player right now...

Schultz will outscore Franson by at least 20 points a year, every year for the next 10 years.

And will have a better +/-

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#52 Zed
July 29 2013, 06:26AM
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@MKE

Please refrain from feeding the trolls.

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#53 Edsez
July 29 2013, 07:10AM
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if JJ is a go-to-the-net, pound it in out of the blue paint type of player in the NHL like he is here against the Americans ......

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ORi-ExwEvOQ

...... he's my kinda guy

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#54 Taylor Gang
July 29 2013, 09:01AM
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As great as it would be to pick up Franson, the biggest problem is bang for buck here.

We are past the stage of big ticket players, we have that in spades. (On offense that is) The problem is that we face the danger of losing players because we're too close to the cap ceiling. We need value contracts. Hemmer is great but his 5 mil cap is an albatross at this point. Nick Schultz isn't doing us much favors along the lines of bang for your buck either. A third pairing defenseman at 3.5 mil? Petry at 1.75 is a bargain right now so I'd rather hold on to him

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#55 Hammers
July 29 2013, 10:06AM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

I think Lowetide is correct here, give Joensuu 4th line until he proves he can push the pace, then you can start looking at the 3rd line.

Putting a limited skill player who has never played full time in the NHL into the top 6 on an elite line is a fool's game! It's a horrible idea, Hartikianen. (similar player) was lost! Absolutely lost!

Taking Peron off in place of Joensuu is simply stupid.

As for Franson........Yes please!

McT didn't give Joensuu a 2 year contract for nothing especially after the number of 1 year contracts his given . Eakins will evaluate and Dougie Weights comments give me reason to believe this guy could make it . The other point is a 3rd line that can defend & score is exactly what this team needs .As for Franson he will stay a Leaf .

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#56 ghostofberanek
July 29 2013, 10:14AM
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When I see Joensuu, I see Brad Isbister 2.0. God, do I hope I'm wrong...

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#57 TV6
July 29 2013, 03:11PM
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There is only 1 GM in the league that would trade Franson for Petry...

That man would be Dave Nonis...

I think that says a lot to the idea of a trade such as that 1.

Again... Just Embarrassing....

Nothing Less ➜ Nothing More...

x6

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#58 TV6
July 29 2013, 03:14PM
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I hope people are not going off on J.J. just because of the fight video in this thread..?

Callahan is holding on for dear life in that rumble, & wants NADA to do with J.J. whatsoever.

He is MUCH tougher than a few people here are giving him credit for.

x6

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