Where does Jesse Joensuu fit?

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:

  • Eddie Shore

    Could be a nice sleeper signing…A big guy who doesn’t chop up the puck. It ‘s also a bonus that he will stick up for his teammates. That quality alone might keep him in the lineup. Fingers crossed.

  • OilClog

    I won’t be surprised if Eakins uses Joensuu with Gags & Yak thus putting Perron with Hemsky / Gordon . Just a feeling but seems I read Eakins believes in player pairs , filling with 3rd player . This then allows RNH /Ebs : Gags / Yak : Hemsky/Perron . I also see Hall playing over 22 minutes and on more than 1 line .

    • striatic

      i agree with this, but i think the line configurations will depend on the nature of the opposition.

      most games, Perron is in the top 6, but i can see Joensuu playing 2nd LW against certain teams with more size and strength in their D Corps.

    • This is an interesting thought. My biggest worry about that idea though is that while Joensuu provides much needed size for that line, I’m not sure that line would be very defensively responsible. You’d have to figure that would be a very sheltered line… which might be fine. Let Hall-Nuge-Eberle play the majority of toughs, Perron-Gordon-Hemsky would also get a lot of the tough matchups.

      I could see that working, and it would revive my hope for Hemsky here a bit more.

      • Czar

        Either way Hemsky will be taking valuable playing time away from Perron or Yaks …….their development will suffer, of that there is no doubt.

        While we all watch Hemsky score the occasional end to end goal, he will not help this team mainly because he refuses to play a team game………soloist do not do well in team games.

        He need to go to the light.

        • NewfoundlandOil

          I don’t think we need to concern ourselves with Perron’s development. Established player. That was the beauty of the Perron/Paajarvi trade.

          Yakupov may still need to play sheltered minutes this year and it would be good to have a Hemsky in case Yak has a sophmore slump.


  • OilClog

    This guy and Belov are the most intriguing signings this summer for me. It is relatively unknown what this guy can do at all. I’m really rooting for him!
    Joensuu, Ryan Hamilton and beleaguered Ben Eager are my guys to watch at training camp. If any of them can play to their size and chip in a few goals then we don’t have to go chasing the Kyle Cliffords of the world in late September.

  • OilClog

    I believe there is a big difference between Jesse and Teemu. Teemu isn’t that big, and doesn’t have much of a power game what so ever.

    Yet, I don’t see him cracking into that top 6 unless… 3 scoring lines.. But that is mystical black Magik! No way we ever ice three scoring lines.. ever. Is fun to dream though..

  • OilersBrass

    I like the size of the player……..surprisingly large for Oiler standards. I’m starting to think with the addition of Joesnuu, Hamilton, Acton, potentially playing along side of Jones, Brown, Eager, we may just have the size we need already.

    The attitude of this player wil dictate if he succeeds………but if Dougie Weight thinks he has potential , well that’s good enough for me!

    I hope that Dallas Eakins sorts through the personnel a little better than all the former coaches……at least he will get rid of players who eat too many pancakes.

  • Eddie Shore

    He’s a big wildcard for sure. If he can be a competent top nine player, all of a sudden our fourth line has Jones and Smyth flanking whoever lands the centre spot. Either of those guys can play top nine minutes in spot duty and all of a sudden we can handle a few injuries at basically every position except centre.

  • John Chambers

    Most Oiler fans are understandably upset that we didn’t sign a veteran depth winger like a Tyler Kennedy, Matt Hendricks, or even Dan Cleary.

    But as Hall Awaits notes, there are some interesting off-the-board signings that could conceivably deliver value in areas the team needs, at a significantly low cap cost.

    This type of management will be crucial when we have 5 or 6 $5M+ players, so in that respect I admire MacT’s out-of-the-box approach.

    • OilClog

      No, I think the talk mostly revolves around Center ice. The wings are stocked, it’s the suggestion that Jesse may crack the top 6 over the recently acquired, David Perron. That notion does upset me, I had a tums.. I’m ok now.

      • John Chambers

        There were several depth C’s traded over the course of the past season – Adam Hall, Handzus, Loktionov, and a few others.

        I’m not enamoured with just handing Lander the job, or with Arcobello centering a top line at the beginning of the season, but my pessimism is tempered with the thought that MacT might actually ‘do something’ if we run into problems, and that doing something to obtain a bottm-6 C isn’t, or shouldn’t be, too challenging if needed.

        • OilClog

          I’m completely confused by your reply, I was stating I think the general Oiler fan is more concerned about C depth rather than wing depth.. which is what you were originally talking about. I was only arguing with you that the biggest general concern to the fan is C depth.. We’re all too aware of who, what, when, how, why, C’s were traded and we had no part of.

  • John Chambers

    Also- Joensuu, Lander, and Jones have the potential to deliver some excellent value at the bottom of the lineup similar to how Kruger, Stalberg, Shaw, and Bickell did for the Blackhawks this past season.

    Of course, potential and actuality are two very different things.

  • Czar

    Jonesuu didn’t hesitate and went right after Callaghan which puts him a step ahead of Temmu in my books!

    Agree with Hall Awaits and hope we finally get some value out of our bottom six. Nice to hear such glowing words on the Oilers talent from Weight as well.

  • 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!

    • OilClog

      Joensuu is a 4th until proven otherwise, High Five! Willis, I believe made this blog just to get the masses riled up with his hilarious antics of crap!

      Franson.. He’s not a 1 or 2.. He doesn’t fit.

      • DSF

        Franson would “fit” just fine.

        He’s 25 years old just entering his prime as a defenseman.

        He’s 6’5″ 215 and was second on the Leafs D with 129 hits only 7 behind Phaneuf.

        He also managed to score 4G and 29P and was +4.

        By way of comparison, Jeff Petry, who is the same age as Franson, only managed to score 3G and 12P.

        Franson is likely going to be too expensive for the Oilers but the “fit” is just fine.

          • Franson is asking for $4M, from what I hear, not 2M a year. At $2M a year, I’d have to figure he wouldn’t be going anywhere. You might be confusing Cody Franson and Mark Fraser here. I think Fraser’s probably looking for $2M.

            My own personal thoughts, I don’t see why we’d go after Franson. Good d-man, but don’t we have enough D in that good 2nd-pairing range already?

          • You can never have enough good defensmen, when Petry day comes will you be willing to pay him 4.5 or 5.0?

            I personally wouldn’t, having said that, you now have options as a GM, keep Petry and trade Franson, or keep Franson and trade Petry.

            It’s a nice spot to be in, this also gives the Oilers the option to keep Klefbom and Marincin where they actually belong for once.

            Depth is so crucial going forward, this is how you keep and maintain championship teams.

            Yes to Franson please.

          • Rocket

            Totally. Great teams like L.A., Chicago, Pittsburgh, etc. always play around with their line-ups to stay competitive.

            It’s called cap management. That’s what GM’s should be good at. So far MacT has shown he can bring in proven players. Why not try for Franson, or Grabovsky?

            I just hope MacT can avoid slip ups like Belanger.

          • DSF

            Good grief.

            He’s a much better defenseman than Petry.

            He scored more points than Schultz who can’t play a lick of defense and you’re worried about him being # 1or #2?

          • striatic

            If the Oilers have a good year are you going away or just going to drink more scotch ? It would actually be cool if you did pro Oiler comparable instead of being so fn annoying with your anti-Oiler schtick.

          • You have to remember this was Schultz’s first year in the NHL.. not his 4th. Franson MARGINALLY edged him in points, and also has his own defensive shortcomings. I wouldn’t say “(Schultz) can’t play a lick of defense”, but he definitely is sketchy in his own zone. I’m splitting hairs by arguing this though, so I won’t.. just saying Schultz is in year one, so I am not so sure at this point that Franson is really a better d-man (in the long run). In fact, I highly doubt he is. Schultz will learn a better defensive game too, I’m thinking, even though I never see him as a shutdown type.

            As for Petry… he is great bang for your buck. At least right now (meaning until he asks for a big raise). He doesn’t provide the offense of Franson yet, and very likely will not ever, but he’s also (currently) more of a balanced defenseman. When I watched Petry in Michigan, he had a arse-load of confidence carrying the puck and leading a rush. I’m pretty sure eventually he’ll get that at the NHL level. I think Krueger used him (and Smid) quite heavily when it came to defensive situations too. I’d like to see him get more PP time. It’s ridiculous to me how Corey Potter had more PP time, but I think that’s what you get when you forced to ride Petry on the PK.

            I think Franson is a quality defenseman.. great offensive guy, but there’s only so much money to spread on this team. Picking him up does not make sense for the Oilers. They can’t spread themselves too thin.

            He’s also a RHD.. while they’re coveted by most teams, I can’t see the need for a top-4 righty here at all with Petry and J. Schultz, neither of which I’d push to the 3rd pairing (maybe very short term, in J Schultz’ case.. but not long).

            It really doesn’t make any sense to go after Franson as much as I’d like that offensive talent here though. But hey.. we actually already have that offense here with Schultz.

          • DSF

            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.

          • MKE

            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 +/-

    • Word to the Bird

      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 .

  • I still think there is less than a 25% chance Hemsky starts the year with Oilers, let alone finishes it. I am pretty sure he will be traded either for a centreman or a big bottom 6 winger. I am pretty sure he will be traded even if all thy can get is a second round draft pick.

    • Spydyr

      You are kidding right or have you had too much kool-aid?

      Klefbom has not played a game in the NHL still a question mark.

      J Schultz faded bad at the end of last season.Still should be good in 2-3 years.

      Ference nice pick up but at then end of his career.Most likely will be a 5-6 defenseman in 2-3 years.

      Franson not even an Oiler complete conjecture.

      Smid Awesome player my favorite Oiler defenseman.Still not a top pairing player and never will be.Good shutdown player.

      Petry did not take a step forward last year maybe even regressed a bit not a top pairing player.

      Marcinin / Gernat both complete question marks at this point.

      The team had the weakest defense in the NHL last year .They did approve some so far in the off season.

      They still lack a stud number one defenceman and at least one more top four defenceman.

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      Hall’s at his most dangerous when he can free wheel and use his speed to get behind defenders, I don’t think they should saddle him with the extra defensive responsibilities that come with center.

      • OilersTony

        as Entertaining as it is too watch him blow down the left wing…. your best player obviously Hall should be your best player in every area of the game… He always played center in minor hockey. small sample size on the draws to go from last season. but definitely a better rate then Gags or RNH had.

  • Spydyr

    I hope we can get a few of these “project” signings to work out. Good value. I hope he hits, kills penalties and fights for the tough real estate in front of the net. We desperately need “that” skill set. A man who fights for the paint.

  • misfit

    On Joensuu, I’d like to see him on a 4th line with Lander and…wait for it…Ales Hemsky. I don’t like Jones at LW, and at least style wise, Smyth-Gordon-Jones seems to work in my head (Smyth is criminally underrated by Oiler fans the last year…I still think he’s effective)

    Hall – Nuge – Eberle
    Perron – Gagner – Yakupov
    Smyth – Gordon – Jones
    Joensuu – Lander – Hemsky

  • BE PREPARED : OILERS COULD BE THIS YEARS STANLEY CUP CHAMPIONS. That’s with the club as it stands now with Hemsky and makeup of revamped defence and a solid backup in LaBarbarra .

    As Weight alluded to, we have a crazy amount of skill in top six – unmatched by rest of league . Who else could afford a great talent like Hemsky on a third line ,and Joensuu an up and comer already having invite to Finnish Olympic team .Centering that is a good man in Gordon . Smyth and Jones anchor the most offensive 4th line in the NHL projected . If our young stars progress as planned for this season , the rest of league could be having fits trying to stop us , and with that progression trying also to physical manhandle us as they had done in the past .

    Defensively J.Schutz should make major strides and Belov , Grebs and Klefbom just adding to a more rounded and solid defence . Goaltending we have the solid healthy back up we should be able to rely on to back up Dubbie .

    Coaching looks to be an upgrade and may be another bonus .

    I like to play overlays, and this year I choose the Oilers as my overlay play . Last time I played my overlays I was only out by one year both times . Chicago one year to early when they were improving , and L.A. again one year to early. Third time I hope to hit it on the nose with my Oiler pick .

  • That post is going to likely get punished.

    I do think this is a much better team (on paper) than we’ve seen in a while, but I think I say that ever year. Right now, just making the playoffs alone would be a huge feat.

  • @DSF

    I would not trade Petry for Franson. See above.. he isn’t as good offensively (Petry isn’t), but again, it’s all about bang for your buck when you have to fill an entire roster. I’m sure you know how the cap system works, but you can’t stockpile loads for $4m players, ya know 😉

    As far as Franson being better offensively than Schultz, come off it. He had two points more (and Schultz had 4 more goals, fyi).. you’re being ridiculous there. And I’m sorry, is it that hard to extrapolate how good a player is? There is no way that MacTavish would trade Schultz for Franson, straight up.. now why do you suppose that is?

    You would be the WORST GM in the NHL if you didn’t extrapolate and base off of potential at all… you’d get burned in a lot of trades. This is common sense, man.

  • Zed

    With J.Schultz’s upside , and superior offensive ability shown already , I doubt the Oilers would even consider Franson and a first round pick – at least not at this time .

  • MKE

    If Franson was that good, he would have been the priority over paying guys like Bolland and Bozak.

    He clearly wasn’t the priority.

    If he was ‘that’ good….he would have been a priority.

    Nashville has a much better history of grooming high end dmen. Yet they traded Franson for Bredd Lebda and Robert Slaney.

    So why do we want the guy who was a number 4 in Toronto last year?

    No thanks

  • Word to the Bird

    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

  • ghostofberanek

    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…


  • ghostofberanek

    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.