Patience for Puljujarvi


The Edmonton Oilers signed Jesse Puljujarvi to a three-year entry level contract yesterday, with a $3.425 million cap hit.
His base salary is $925,000. The Oilers happily selected Jesse Puljujarvi with the fourth selection at the NHL draft in June. Many didn’t expect him
to be there, but the Columbus Blue Jackets preferred Pierre-Luc Dubois and took him third.

Oilersnation erupted in celebration.
Puljujarvi is 6’4” and 208 pounds. He is huge. He can skate and he was the best player at the World Junior Championships. He looks like a great bet to be a
solid NHL player, but history suggests it won’t happen right away.

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For most European players, adjusting to the smaller North American ice surface while playing in the best league in the
world takes time. Very few of them put up huge numbers right away and most do not play in the NHL at 18.

Here is a look at European players (who hadn’t played in the CHL) taken in the top-ten in the past decade.


Nick Backstrom was the fourth selection.
He played another year in Sweden before debuting with the Capitals in
2007/2008. Backstrom had a great rookie year, scoring 14-55-69 in 82 games. He
is one of the best centres in the NHL now.

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Nikita Filatov went sixth in 2008.
He played in the AHL at 18 and tallied 16-16-32 in 39 games. He played eight
games with the Blue Jackets and scored 4-0-4. The next season he played 13
games with Columbus but finished the season in the KHL. He would only play 53
NHL games.


Viktor Hedman went second to Tampa Bay. He came right to the NHL, but was a late
birthday so it was his 19 year old season. Hedman’s first three season saw him
produce 20, 26 and 23. He is now one of the top-15 D-men in the league.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson went sixth to Arizona. He played one more season in
Sweden and then as a 20-year-old he played 48 games scoring 1-10-11. He is now
one of the best defenders in the NHL.

Magnus Paajarvi went 10th to the Oilers. He played one more year in Sweden before
debuting in 2010. He had a decent first season, scoring 15 goals and 34 points
in 80 games. The next two seasons, however, he split time between the NHL and
AHL. During his past three seasons in St. Louis, he hasn’t been able to play higher
than the fourth line.

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Mikael Granlund, ninth to Minnesota. He played two more seasons in Finland then
split the 2012/2013 season between the AHL and NHL. In his third full NHL
season, this past year, he tallied 13-31-44 in 82 games.


Adam Larsson went fourth to New Jersey. He has a late birthday and debuted in his 19 year
old season. He played 65 NHL games, but only dressed in five of the Devils 24
playoff games. The next two seasons he split between the AHL and NHL, but this
year, his fifth pro season, he played top-pairing minutes.

Mika Zibanejad went sixth to Ottawa. He played nine NHL games before going back to Sweden.
He played 23 AHL games during the lockout, and then debuted with Ottawa in
January of 2013 and scored 7-13-20 in 42 games. His past two seasons he has
scored 20 and 21 goals and 46 and 51 points.

Jonas Brodin went 10th to Minnesota. He played another year in Sweden, then started
the lockout year in the AHL, before going to Minnesota when the season began.
He had a very strong second season and has been solid in his own zone, but has
not progressed as much offensively as some would like. He is a reliable, but
not spectacular top-four defender.

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Hampus Lindholm debuted in the AHL at 18 and played 44 games after being the sixth
selection. He made his NHL debut at 19 with the Ducks and had an excellent
rookie campaign, scoring 6-24-30 in 78 games and playing 19:25/game in their second pairing. He has had three very good NHL
seasons and he is already a top-pair defender, on the brink of being one of
the rare legitimate #1 D-men in the league.


Alexsandre Barkov debuted with the Florida Panthers at 18 years old. The young Finn tallied
8-16-24 in 54 games (prorates to 12-24-36), and played 17:05/game. He might be
the best potential comparable to Puljujarvi due to size, age and nationality,
with the only difference being Barkov plays centre.

Elias Lindholm went sixth overall to the Hurricanes and came directly to the NHL. In
his 19-year-old season he played 58 games and scored 9-12-21. He also played
six games in the AHL. The natural centre played most of his rookie season as a

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Rasmus Ristolainen was the eighth selection and came directly to Buffalo at
19. He split his rookie season equally between the AHL and NHL playing 34 games
in both leagues. He had 2-2-4 with the Sabres and 6-14-20 with Rochester. This
past season, his third in North America, he emerged as a very good top-pairing
defender for the Sabres.

Valeri Nichuskin went 10th to the Stars and debuted in the NHL at 18. He tallied
14-20-34 in 79 games playing 14:58/game and most of that was at EV
(13:38/game). He was injured early the next season and played only eight games.
This past season he played 79 games again and tallied 9-20-29 and he played
13:55/game but averaged less PP time at only :59/game. He has yet to re-sign
with the Stars.


William Nylander went eighth to Toronto. He split his 18 year-old season between the AHL
14-18-32 in 37 games and in Sweden with MODO, 8-12-20 in 21 games. This past
season he started the year in the AHL and tallied 18-27-45 in 38 games before making
his NHL debut on February 29th. In 22 NHL games he averaged
16:20/game and scored 6-7-13.


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Mikko Rantanen went 10th to Colorado. He started the season in Colorado and played
six games scoring no points and playing only 9:12/game. At 19 he was sent to
the AHL and had a great rookie campaign scoring 24-36-60 in 52 games. He was
recalled to Colorado late in the season and played three more games and had no
points. The ridiculous part was he only played 8:27/game after he was recalled.
Why recall the kid when he was playing great in the AHL and only play him eight
minutes/night in the NHL? It is the perfect way to ruin his confidence.



You should be very excited the Oilers were able to add Puljujarvi to the organization. The cupboard for skilled right shot forwards was pretty bare after Jordan Eberle. Puljujarvi has great speed, is competent defensively and gives the Oilers another big, skilled forward. But there is no need to rush him or have lofty offensive expectations for this coming season. The advantage the Oilers have with him compared to their previous high picks
is they can send him to the AHL, if he has a tough start, rather than
send him to junior.

Since 2005/2006, only eleven 18-year-old rookies have produced 30+ points:

GP    G    A   PTS
Sidney Crosby              81    39  63  102
Nathan MacKinnon       82    24  39    63
Jeff Skinner                  82    31  32    63
Matt Duchene               81   24   31   55
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins   62   18   34   52
Sam Gagner                 79    13  36   49
Connor McDavid           45   16   32   48
Steven Stamkos           79    23   23   46
Jordan Staal                 81    29   13   42
Aaron Ekblad                81   12    27   39
Valeri Nichuskin            79    14    20   34
Alex Galchenyuk           48    9     18    27**

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**Galchenyuk played during lockout shortened season, so most likely he would have produced over 30 points in a full season.

If Puljujarvi produces 30 points he’ll have had a very good year. If he can produce on the PP he could surpass 40, but history shows it is very difficult to score in the NHL when you are only 18, especially for players coming from Europe and adapting to the smaller ice.

He’ll have a good chance to play RW on the second line. He’ll need to beat out Nail Yakupov for that spot, but even if he is on the second line that won’t guarantee him 40 points.

In 2013/2014 they had four players with 40+ points: Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, David Perron and Nugent-Hopkins all had 56+ points, but the fifth leading scorer, Gagner, had 37.

In 2014/2015 only Eberle and Nugent-Hopkins had 40+ points. Hall was injured and had 38 in 53 games, while Benoit Pouliot had 34 in 58 games.

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This past season Hall, McDavid, Eberle and Leon Draisaitl topped 40.

If we assume McDavid, Eberle, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic will be the leading point producers, expecting 40 points from Puljujarvi would be expecting an incredible rookie campaign.

Only Washington (seven), Columbus, Detroit, Florida and Minnesota had six forwards with 40 or more points last season. You need balanced scoring, but you also need your players to stay healthy.

Fans should be excited about Puljujarvi, but 20-35 points is a realistic total, and anything above should be considered an excellent season for a young 18-year-old rookie.


Puljujarvi is a legend among the Finnish hockey community. He clearly has a good sense of humour and some wicked stickhandling skills at the 2:00 mark of the video.

Recently by Jason Gregor:   

        • pkam

          He has been kept in juniors for 2 years, and was sent to the minors until injury call up and he was the best in the minors at that time. That is not patience?

          If Nurse was rushed, it was rushed by injury, not the management.

          • Spydyr

            Nurse has played a grand total of 9 AHL games.

            If you think that is how you develop young defencman good for you. I don’t.

            Management are the ones that made the decision to bring him up because of injury.

          • pkam

            He was the best in our farm when the injury happened. So the Oilers should keep him in the farm and recalled someone worse than him simply because he hadn’t played enough games in the minors?

            If he was rushed, it is not because the management has no patience, it is for other reasons.

          • Spydyr

            Was it the smart decision to bring Nurse up to early and perhaps ruin him like so many other Oilers picks. Or would have the right decision be leaving him in the AHL to develop and bring up a more experienced player?

          • pkam

            I don’t have an answer to your question. But I believe a team should have rules and follow through with it.

            If the rule is the best player is the one who gets the first opportunity to be recalled, it shouldn’t matter how many AHL games he has played. Or you can choose to recall the one who has played the most games, regardless of his performance. Can’t switch back and forth as players will be confused.

          • Keepyourstickontheice

            Why does there need to be a hard and fast rule? I can tell you there certainly isn’t one as far as the Oilers AHL call-ups are concerned.

            This is a team that had Brad Hunt up for stretches, not because he was “the best” whatever that means with developing defencemen, but because he had a good slapper and they needed a PP bomber.

          • pkam

            What are you talking about? Brad Hunt has been consistently the best defenseman in our farm other than Nurse and Reinhart. He just can’t bring his game to NHL.

          • Keepyourstickontheice

            See I straight up do not consider an AHL player who cannot handle the NHL “our best”, which is kind of my point regarding a hard and fast rule, what is best is a nebulous concept.

            Griffin Reinhart, Darnell Nurse and Jordan Oesterle all looked better in the big show than Hunt did and should be given cups of coffee wherever available in my opinion.

          • pkam

            Before last season, Hunt and Davidson were the best D in our farm.

            Last season, he was our best D after Nurse and Reinhart. And that is why Nurse and Reinhart were being recalled before Hunt.

            Perhaps Oesterle had surpassed Hunt near the end of last season and that was why he was recalled before Hunt, or the team had finally gave up on Hunt after 3 seasons. But until you try, you don’t know if a player can play in NHL or not.

            But it appears to me that the Oilers have a rule and are recalling the best player from the farm and not by number of games played.

          • crabman

            at this point no one knows. Time will tell. If he comes in this year and wins a spot in the top 6 and performs well on the 3rd pair or starts on the top pair in the AHL, plays well and earns a call up I’d say all is good and maybe the NHL experience was the best thing for him. But to say he might have been ruined as a player last year is quite a jump to make at this point.

          • Keepyourstickontheice

            Maybe the only reason Brad Hunt gets leaned on so heavily is because the Condors coaching staff knows they will have him consistently throughout the season.

            It’s probably very frustrating for our minor leagues coaches, you can have your roster blown up on moments notice because the big show needs to change things, but you’re still expected to team build and succeed with whatever you’re left with.

          • Craig1981

            Nurse has played 20 AHL games. This is the 2nd time in as many days you have miss quoted stats to try and win an argument……

            How about these stats. Of any of the top ten taken in 2013 Nurse has played the fewest NHL games. 28 of the 30 1st rounders in 2013 have played in the NHL…

            ….my facts differ from yours, since they are true

  • S cottV

    He has size, skating, skills.

    Grounded in two way Finnish hockey culture, where they have a mix of rink sizes.

    He’s a winger, so there isn’t as much to absorb, as compared to centremen and d men.

    Wouldn’t surprise me to see him make the jump and produce reasonably well at both ends of the rink.

    If he looks like a good bet to the make the jump, fast track him, along with reasonable expectations.

  • OilCan2

    JP was the best snag of the draft. He is the most NHL ready of anyone not drafted #1. As #4 overall he should be able to post decent numbers from the bottom six. JP can go to the Condors and back freely.

    Benson would have to win a roster spot or; I believe, go to the WHL after his ninth NHL game.

  • YEGFan

    Oilers fans are completely out of their minds. The past 10 years have ruined perspectives.

    He is 18. In SEVEN years he will be 25. He will not be a young player in his prime for seven years. Seven years is a long time.

    Relying on 18 – 23 year olds is the reason the Oilers have been so bad it is literally unprecedented. Fans talk about players like Hall, Eberle, and Nuge like they are currently the same player they were five years ago. A 23 year old Nugent-Hopkins is not the same as an 18 year old Nugent-Hopkins.

    If Puljujarvi is one of the Oilers’ best players before 2020 the Oilers will have maintained the rebuild and a historic level of mediocrity for another 3 years. Look at how Boston debuted Seguin and Tampa debuted Drouin to see how an actually competitive team is affected by an ultra talented new draft pick. Look at the Oilers to see how a terrible team misplaces its hopes to maintain a catastrophe.

      • YEGFan

        He played in the NHL, but his average time on ice per game was around 12 minutes. He was a 4th line player. He was not depended on to support the team in a major way.

        I don’t think it’s necessary to put Puljujarvi in the AHL necessarily (it might help, it might not), but if the Oilers rely on him to be in the top nine in ice time it will be an excellent indication of why their games are meaningless by November.

    • madjam

      Well let’s eradicate anyone 23 and under and see how our team looks and would perform . Gone from team are Larsson , Hopkins , Reinhart , Nurse , Puljujarvi , Yakupov , Klefbom , Draisaitl and the recent 18 year old McDavid . What we have left we would be lucky to win a game all year . And how prey tell do you get out of basement of league when the supporting caste is basically worst in league to begin with all these years , not like the bases of Boston or Tampa were/ are ?

      • YEGFan

        I don’t think you could have done a better job of proving my point.

        Come up with the same list for every playoff team and see how bad their team looks when you just consider their players over 23. I bet they still look like damn good teams to you.

        The Oilers went all in on the draft. NHL draft picks are 18 years old. It takes them 7 years to be at their peak. If none of your best players are at their peak you’re going to be worse than all the teams that are being led by 25-31 year olds.

        The Oilers are still bad because their best players aren’t good enough. They aren’t good enough because they are too young. Their supporting cast is honestly pretty average.

        Picking up Lucic and Sekera was good. The first cluster of actual top level talent (Hall, Eberle, RNH) was finally going to be in its prime for the first time this year. Having a generational player like McDavid who defies all rules was an amazing stroke of luck. I hate the “wait one more year” thing as much as anyone, but when you look at the player ages 2016 actually is the year things should start to change (RNH is in his prime finally).

        When the players you listed start hitting their mid 20s then we will actually have the team that’s been getting built at an excruciatingly (and unnecessarily) slow speed.

        The simple answer to your question is: either trade the young guys / draft picks for older guys, or wait.

      • Total Points

        All the young players on the Oilers is exactly why the Oilers are consistently at the bottom.

        Kids playing against men.

        Not working out. Never has and never will.

  • Mitch92

    The Oilers can be as patient as they want with Jesse Puljujärvi but I think he will outshine anyone challenging him for a top six right wing spot including Jordan Eberle. Personally I can’t wait to see Puljujärvi patrolling the right wing with CMD while Lucic dissuades anyone who tries to slow them down. These kids are just getting warmed up!

  • JimmyV1965

    One thing I don’t think we talk about enuf is how young the Oilers are. The youngest teams in the NHL last year were Carolina, Edmonton, Buffalo and Winnipeg. Hmm. Any trend there? I’m sure the oldest teams were the Pens, Hawks, sharks etc. We have to stop putting young kids in positions of responsibility.

        • pkam

          I have to agree with you on this one. Not saying for sure Cooper will get it done here but I like him more than Krueger and was my choice at that time.

          I have been suggesting here to get Jon Cooper when Tambo fired Renney but got lots of trashes.

          I also remembered when MacT hired Dallas I questioned why we didn’t give Nelson at least an interview and again got lots of trashes.

      • YEGFan

        Tampa is young, but they have a core in its prime: Callahan (31), Conacher (26), Flippula (32), Johnson (25), Killorn (26), Kucherov (23), Namestnikov (23), Palat (25), Stamkos (26), Coburn (31), Garrison (31), Hedman (25), Stralman (29).

        Almost their entire team is in its prime. The Oilers have a fair number of vets (which skews their average age higher than it is practically), they’re just role players.

        Your best players have to be in their primes, which is mid 20s. Not early 20s. Definitely not teens.

        • pkam

          So unless we can get some core players at their prime, we are not going to get better. If that is the case, what does it matter if we play JP or an older role player in our top 9?

          • YEGFan

            I mean, McDavid bucks the trend, RNH is older, Eberle is older, maybe Larsson emerges, and Lucic is in his prime. Signing Lucic added an extra player capable of supporting the core and if Larsson can help Sekera and Fayne, while Klefbom inches closer, the Oilers will be better. Frankly Yakupov still is younger than people like to acknowledge and could end up being a solid complementary player. Bring in Hudler or Versteeg for a couple years at 2.5M (lower cap hit than one of the ELCs where bonuses are getting hit) and things don’t look as bad.

            The fact is the Oilers are not built to win a cup during McDavid’s ELC unless they get great returns from trading Nurse, Draisaitl, Puljujarvi, and draft picks. The Taylor Hall trade made that worse, even if it balanced the roster. They continue to amass high potential young players, so there continues to be hope, but there is a reason its perpetually a few years away. Their best players are too young.

            They’ve continued churning over young players since Sam Gagner was drafted. Being impatient is understandable, but being impatient with a 22 year old in the NHL is ignorant. Expecting every good 18 year old to turn into a top 6 forward or 4 defenceman simply because you play them there is also not going to happen

            People argue that keeping the same players for five years is refusing to change something that isn’t working, while ignoring the fact that a player is completely different when he’s 23 than when he was 18. Look across the NHL, most rosters only have a couple players under 23. Using the 3rd youngest team in the NHL as an example, Tampa had two: a backup goalie and a 3rd overall pick, three years after he was drafted, playing third line minutes.

            Imagine if Draisaitl was a reliable plug on the Oilers’ third line for the next few years instead of being expected to outplay Logan Couture, Jeff Carter, Joe Pavelski, and Ryan Kesler on a nightly basis.

            The Oilers are STILL built for the future, and they keep making decisions to postpone their emergence.

      • Oil drop

        Tampa has stamkos. The key driver for the team. He is not a young rookie and is the key driver for the teams offence where as the oilers have young gus in big minute roles.

        Also Tampa has a nice mix of talent in the line up. We have so nice talent but big holes in ours.

        The .01 difference in age you have stated is a coincidence and when you dig deeper you find other factors that paint the picture why Tampa will make the playoffs while the oilers with new additions larsen and lucic will feel out if they can make the playoffs

        • Seanaconda

          Tampa doesn’t even need stamkos they were fine with him injured. They had amazing drafting with the triplets and hedman looks like a top 5 dman in the nhl and bishop was second for the vezina

        • Craig1981

          When the Pens won in 2009 they were a young team. When Kane/Toews won in 2010 they were only in their 3rd season and with a young team.

          Young teams can win, old teams can win. History proves both

          • YEGFan

            Sorry, but not with the Hawks.

            At 21 (not 18) Kane and Toews were the two youngest players on the team.

            They had a diverse impressive core of players mostly in their mid 20s.

            You have a bit more of a point with the Pens. Crosby and Malkin were 21 and 22 (but we’re talking generational talents there), Jordan Staal was 20, and Letang was 21. It’s a fair point and Crosby or Malkin are probably the best comparisons to McDavid out there. Malkin had 113 points that season and Crosby had 103. Hopefully McDavid ends up being that good but the Oilers don’t have that second ultra-elite players.

            The team was balanced with major contributions from old guys (age 32+) like Bill Guerin, Sergei Gonchar (led the team in Ice Time), Petr Sykora, and Miro Satan.

  • Ready to Win

    I agree that Puljujarvi would probably benefit from a year in the AHL, but considering that at this moment he is no worse than our third best RW and might be our second best (never mind how many fans wants Ebs or Yak or both gone) we might as well get used to the idea that barring injury or a horrific training camp are the only things that are going to keep out of the opening night line up.

  • fran huckzky

    With the new arena,ten years of misery and taking advantage of McDavid’s elc,the pressure is really on the Oil to win now.It may mean that some players get rushed but if we are playing meaningful games in February I will be content.

  • Dobbler

    There’s a difference between lacking depth and having a deliberate philosophy involving rushing young players. In the past (Sam Gagner) the Oilers showed a willingness to play young players when it wasn’t necessary. Last year (Nurse/Reinhart) they relied on young players because they had no reasonable alternative.

  • ubermiguel

    So basically if Puljujarvi gets significant NHL time the Oilers are rushing him beyond what any other organization would do. Under old management I would absolutely expect him to get rushed, I’m curious how the new management will handle him. I hope they sign a veteran NHL depth right winger (Versteeg?) so Puljujarvi can start in the AHL.

    • fran huckzky

      If he’s good enough to play in the NHL,let him play. That’s not rushing him. If he needs seasoning,send him to Bakersfield. You can’t say send him to thaAHL automatically just because of his age.

  • madjam

    Jesse no normal little boy , he is a physically fit behemoth to begin with at 18 . He’ll in all likelihood get about 10 games at start of season , if he looks like best option . How he plays will dictate whether he stays or goes down . Some of these kids coming out of juniors nowadays are huge physical marvels and an NHL caliber of skill to back them . He needs to play in a league that suits his skill and physical level , not one below it . One of the biggest adjustment for the kids is travel and longevity of the season , and holding their consistency rate up . Draisaitl had that problem of consistency about 1/3 rd of last season .

  • madjam

    Puljujarvi , despite being 18 , has already spent two fruitful seasons playing professional men’s hockey in Finland , among his other tourneys , etc.. When have we had anything near that type come here at such an age ? Never . This will be his third year in men’s professional hockey , not his first . He has already bucked the trend so to speak . Hear ye , here ye . Prepare yourself for the Amazing Jesse , coming to a rink/site near you in the near future , as Ringling Brothers would say ! Our cup runneth over , no longer half full . Time to get on the bandwagon .

    • YEGFan

      The article describes a bunch of players all like Jesse. In fact, it’s the smaller guys who do better in the NHL, which makes sense. Big guys use size as a crutch in the weaker leagues. In the NHL everybody is strong.

      The Finnish Elite league is fine, but don’t act like it compares to the NHL in quality. It’s a cut below the AHL, KHL, and probably the Swedish Elite League. He didn’t dominate the Finnish league by any stretch, fruitful is about as effusive as you can get.

      You know who we had that looked almost exactly the same? Magnus Pajaarvi. In fact, Pajaarvi had 3 seasons playing against men in the SEL.

      In his last year Pajaarvi put up 29 points in 49 games. Better than Puljujarvi’s 28 in 50.

    • I am Batman

      Isn’t Pitlick the guy that is always injured? (yeah, besides Klefbom)…. sounds like it is not going to be a challenge to outplay him, and for my money I say he outplays Eberle out the gate. We wait.

  • RJ

    I would keep Puljujarvi in the AHL all season.

    It will give him a chance to learn Oiler systems, focus on being stronger and faster, give him a ton of icetime (PP1, PK1, 1st line, OT), and It will also delay his first year as a UFA. And let him adjust to life in North America. And with a Puljujarvi in Bakersfield, they may even see a playoff run, and playoff games. That’s doubtful here.

    Then when he comes to Edmonton, he will be ready to play well in the fishbowl.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Posters keeps saying things like “give him 10 games” and “keep him in the AHL to delay his UFA status” but these comments are incorrect.

    Assuming he doesn’t return to Europe, if he isn’t in the NHL, he will be going to the AHL, a professional league, not back the junior, the slide rule does not apply.

    This season will burn a year of his ELC and his RFA years whether he plays in the NHL or the AHL.

  • madjam

    Clear the tracks here comes Jesse , as he smashes thru the opposition . Looks like he can grow another few inches yet , and reach around 6ft.6in .. Jesse the Giant or Jesse and the Beanstock .

  • madjam

    Contrary to article , Jesse needs to be assimulated / rushed into the new culture set up by Chia , just like we did with Jarri Kurri upon drafting him if you recall . Kurri had 75 points his first season and I expect Jesse to get close to that figure . It did not ruin Jarri and it’s unlikely to ruin Jesse either . Time to crank up the compete level along with Larsson and Lucic . What’s best for the team and player is to play on top lines this season , not in AHL , and be assimulated into top 6 at earliest stages .

  • ThinkingOutLoud

    Off topic but from the above post:

    Connor McDavid 45 16 32 48
    Steven Stamkos 79 23 23 46

    if anyone is wondering how good McD is…

    Still can’t believe he’s ours… 🙂