Monday Mailbag – Does Puljujarvi Stick Around?


You watched the outdoor game, you got a bit day drunk, and now you’re looking for ways to kill company time until you’re allowed to leave. Luckily, the mailbag is here to save you from being too productive and I’m pretty good about not telling your boss about all the time you spent here. As always, the mailbag depends on your questions.  If you have one, you can email it to me at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jsbmbaggedmilk. Enjoy the distraction, my friends, you’ve earned it.

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1) Garrett asks – First impressions time. What have you liked, and what have you not liked so far this season?

Jason Gregor:

Offence from everyone has been great. It is very early but RNH and Pouliot’s production hasn’t been where you would like it.


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I have liked Connor McDavid with the puck on his stick, the top pairing of Klefbom-Larsson and the three victories in four games. Leon Draisaitl has been impressive, and Jordan Eberle continues to score. Milan Lucic and Kris Russell have had some adjustments to make, but I am pleased with both overall.

Matt Henderson:

Liked: McDavid stronger and faster. Draisaitl in the face off circle. Adam Larsson more physical than I thought a Swedish defender would be.

Disliked: Not enough NHL players at RW. Nuge off to a slow start. Talbot spotty to begin the year. Third pairing defenders dropping like flies.

Jonathan Willis:

I’ve been extremely impressed with the Andrej Sekera/Kris Russell pairing. I figured the addition of Adam Larsson would shore up the first pair, but that second pairing RD job was a question mark and Russell did not look like a good fit in that role to me. So far, he’s done strong work and if that continues it will alleviate a major concern I had about this year’s Oilers. I haven’t liked the lack of secondary scoring; if not for Tyler Pitlick catching lightning in a bottle the struggles for the second and third line would be getting a lot of attention.

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Jason Strudwick:

Big fan of the way Tyler Pitlick is playing. He is going for it and standing out each night. He is hungry and it shows. I also like the organ playing at Rogers Place. I don’t like that the Canucks are making me look bad. I picked them to be last.

Robin Brownlee:

Like McDavid, obviously, Lucic, Russell and Pitlick. Liked how the Oilers played against the St. Louis Blues. Wasn’t thrilled about the start of Talbot before he bounced back after his worst game.

Chris the Intern:

Connor McDavid obviously. But I’m very impressed/surprised with the play of Kris Russell and Adam Larsson. They’ve both made a huge impact on our back end. We still need to tighten some things up and make fewer mistakes, but very good impression from the first four games.

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I’ve been super pumped on Connor so far this season, but I feel like that’s a cop out. That said, I’ll go with Adam Larsson as being impressive so far this season. The guy has been defending well, laying the body when he has the chance, and making some nice outlet passes right onto the tape. Has he been perfect? No, but he’s been impressive early and that’s what matters.

On the other side, I will say that I’m not a fan of the Pouliot-Nuge-Kassian line. Pouliot and Kassian have career highs of 36 and 29 points respectively but we’re expecting that line to create offense. I think they could have one of those two guys on Nuge’s line but I’d rather see him get a winger with some touch. Lucic or Maroon would be ideal, imo.

2) Jack asks – Purely based on what you’ve seen so far, how long do you think Puljujarvi sticks around in Edmonton?

Jason Gregor:

Not much longer. I’m sure they want him to experience the Heritage Classic and meet Kurri, Tikkanen and Selanne. That would be huge for a young Finn, and I could see him in the AHL within ten days.


Yes, I do. For me, a trip to the farm is probably a reasonable idea, but JP has been very good at the things that usually drive a coach crazy—like being on the wrong side of the puck and losing battles. Puljujarvi has been impressive without scoring a lot, and those goals should come.

Matt Henderson:

He should have been gone after preseason. The Condors schedule is such that there won’t be another game until Friday. He should be there by Thursday afternoon as far as I’m concerned. He can be recalled the minute he looks ready. Hire a Finnish/English translator as a second language teacher and get the kid playing hockey.

Weekly Rumours 2.0: Trade Winds Are Blowing

Jonathan Willis:

Nine games.

Jason Strudwick:

He is going to be good but not now. Going to Bakersfield would be great. Lots of ice time. He doesn’t need to get faster, he needs to get quicker.

Robin Brownlee:

The reality is decisions about Puljujarvi aren’t made solely on what we’ve seen so far. He can’t be sitting out as he did before the Winnipeg game. Would have no problem seeing him sent to the minors.

Chris the Intern:

The fact that they’ve sat him out for two games already tells me he won’t be staying much longer. I’d say he sticks with the Oilers until his ninth game and then they send him to Bakersfield, unless he has a big two weeks.


I truly believe that Puljujarvi would be better off spending time in the AHL and you won’t be able to convince me otherwise. Sure, there’s probably benefit to practicing with the NHL team but I think it would serve him better to be playing 20 minutes per night in Bakersfield rather than 10 or less in Edmonton. I assume the team is counting his games carefully, but I’d have to hope he gets some development time with the Condors.

3) Jeff asks – Sometimes players come off as complacent or unmotivated during a game, do coaches sometimes do the same?

Jason Gregor:

I never believe a player is unmotivated. Some days they physically won’t feel their best and they will lose battles. It is hard to tell if a coach is unmotivated or complacent by watching them stand on the bench. I have no idea how to rate if they are complacent. Some coaches match lines more than others, and if we disagree with who they put out on the ice in a specific situation doesn’t mean the coach is complacent. Hard to know if a coach is.


I think Struds will have a better answer, based on human nature it is certainly true but one would be hard pressed to find examples imo.

Matt Henderson:

Well certainly some people *look* like they don’t care even if they really do. I can’t really speak to whether they’re motivated or not, just that obviously coaches can look bored too.

Jonathan Willis:

It’s a long season. I’m always hesitant to ascribe complacency or call out a lack of effort to players or coaches, but they wouldn’t be human if there wasn’t fluctuation over an 82-game (and often more) grind.

Jason Strudwick:

Interesting question. They are human and get up for big games, just like players. I think yes, it is probable that happens.

Robin Brownlee:

I don’t think you’ll ever be able to describe Todd McLellan as complacent. Sure, coaches probably fail to bring their A game 82 nights a season, although I can’t see an entire coaching staff all having a bad night.

Chris the Intern:

This is a really good question, I like it. I can’t say that I’ve ever noticed a coach come off like that during the game. I think it all depends on their styles. In that case, did Dallas Eakins look lazy every game? Nah, he just stood in one spot and never spoke a word the whole game. Every game I watch, you always see McLellan walking up and down the bench, talking to all of the players.


Isn’t that human nature? I’m sure we all have days where we’d rather not be working, and I can’t see coaches or players being any different. I mean, just look at Todd McLellan in some of these post game pressers and tell me that he wouldn’t rather be home watching the Walking Dead.

4) Stephen asks – Who gets their team to the playoffs first? Todd McLellan’s Oilers or Mike Babcock’s Leafs?

Jason Gregor:

Oilers. Their defence is further along.


Great question. I think Babcock has an advantage because the Eastern Conference is weaker, but for me I will pick the Oilers because 2017-18 should be the year in Edmonton.

Matt Henderson:

Babcock doesn’t have McDavid so I say McLellan. If McDavid were somewhere else I would choose *that* team. The Leafs have a lot of kids. We’ve seen that show. Exciting last placed hockey.

Jonathan Willis:

Only one of those teams has Connor McDavid.

Jason Strudwick:

The Oilers. The Leafs have some work to do and they are so young!

Robin Brownlee:

The Oilers.

Chris the Intern:

I’ll admit, the leafs are looking KIND OF impressive this year. However, I still think the Oilers will make it there first. We’ve been rebuilding for FAR TOO LONG for the Leafs to make it before us. They need a few years to feel what it’s like at the bottom.

Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid recovers from COVID-19


OILERS! Mostly because we have Connor and they don’t. I also refuse to believe that the Leafs will make the playoffs first despite the junior conference they’re playing in.

5) Alex H. asks – Some people, including myself, would love getting paid to watch, talk, and write about sports a dream job. How did you get into the job and what advice would you give to someone trying to get into it?

Jason Gregor:

I went to NAIT and took Radio and Television Arts. If you want a full-time job you’ll likely need some schooling, or be a former pro player, although freelancing has become very popular. If you want to be a writer, then you need to write. Start a blog. Write often and make sure you read. The best way to improve your writing is to write and read.

And you need to be passionate about it. You need to put in a lot of time and hours, but if you are passionate about it won’t feel like work.


I fell into it, honestly. One thing that helped is that I love to write, and this is an outlet for me and one I value every day. Seriously, I always wanted to do this and am thrilled for the opportunity.

Matt Henderson:

This isn’t my full time job. I have a “real” job that pays all my bills and I go to five days per week. I’ll tell you how I got a job blogging, though. I did it for free for over a year just because I thought it was fun. After I had written on my own blog long enough that I wasn’t awful (debatable), I saw a job posting of sorts and applied. After I was doing the blog thing for a little over a year as a paid contributor other places started to ask me to write for them. So, my best advice is to just start writing. Scratch that, best advice is to learn how to code and make a website worth visiting that you can sell, and also write.

Jonathan Willis:

I’ve always loved watching hockey and writing generally, so starting an Oilers blog was a natural fit for me when I was bored while in trade school. It snowballed quickly; after just a few months of writing every day, OilersNation brought me on and other opportunities arose from that, even though I’d never really given any serious thought to leaving the oil patch previously. As somebody who has spent some time running websites and looking for good writers, I can say this: There is always a shortage of people who can think critically while producing a high volume of content. My advice to anyone who wants to get into writing about sports would be to not wait: Go start a blog, and write something every day. It’s not that time-consuming, the mere act of writing dramatically improves your skill as a writer, and when you’re looking for opportunities you have a body of work that you can point to and a track record of volume.

Jason Strudwick:

Jason Gregor forced me to join Oilersnation!

Robin Brownlee:

I picked something I was passionate about. The media business has changed so much since I got into it in the early 1980s, especially the formal training end of things. I came up in the old school era — we used typewriters — and I’m not sure a lot of what I learned applies today. That said, if you write, write a lot. If you talk, talk a lot. Understand that the competition for an audience is stiffer now than it has ever been because there are so many more outlets to choose from. You’re not only competing against formally trained writers/talkers but anybody who has a laptop, an internet connection and a desire to make their thoughts known.

Chris the Intern:

I’m still at the beginning of my career and still feel like I have a lot to learn and experience, so advice probably shouldn’t be coming from me. I am, however, very proud of how hard I worked throughout university, and up until now. I am very fortunate for landing such an amazing job with Oilersnation and I would like to think that if I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I did, an opportunity like this would have never come up.


My advice would be to meet Wanye when he starts a blog and hold on as tight as you can until he hires you. Worked for me! Seriously, though, networking is the most important piece of advice I can give you. Meet people. Reach out to people you admire. Try to interview writers you like. Do whatever you can to talk to these people and learn as much as you can along the way.

  • 24% body fat

    Puljijarvi to Bakersfield please.

    Pitlicks time is now and he is playing well

    Hendricks is due back and a cheaper option.

    Slepyshev is doing ok and unfortunately oilers NEED to keep him happy. If he is sent down you might need to buy him a one way ticket to Putinland.

    What if there is another Expansion in 2 years. JP contract sliding another year is not a bad thing.

  • Serious Gord

    Most impressed by how with some key changes the team is now far more balanced. And that with that balance they have become a vastly better team. IOW the team is better than the sum of its parts.

    Most disappointed by Rogers place. Rexall (and the saddledome for that matter) are better places to actually watch a game. The upper bowl is particularly bad – almost as bad as the third level in the saddledome – but then nothing is as bad as that. And the decor and food & Bev options are either the same or worse than an airport in the 1990s. Most egregious – the Gretzky statute looks like it has been dropped on the curb waiting for the waste disposal truck to show up (for those who haven’t seen it you should check it out).

  • Dan 1919

    The hockey gods are harsh gods. We gave them Gagner’s, Hemsky’s and fringe players perennially, it was never enough. Who knew this whole time that the price for Lowe’s mismanagement would be two 1st overall picks. The deed is done, best of luck to Hall & Yakupov, as we can finally enjoy a legit NHL team again.

  • Bubba Train

    I feel the Oilers are managing JP as a foreign 18 year old as opposed to only a hockey player.

    They may be focused on his adjustments.

    He plays 9 games over a 16 game timeframe then back over to the Finnish league. They bring him back over for three weeks at the end of the season.

    Just a guess.

      • Bubba Train

        Maybe not the best plan for us, as “we” and the org would like to see him over here for already stated advantages. Just making a guess. Some young players are not ready mentally. Away from home, can’t speak the language, …… they struggle to stay focused on hockey. Think Yak2. Looks to me like the Oil are being very careful with this prospect so a return to home is a possibility.

  • madjam

    Oilers handling Jesse well up till now . He is getting some valuable experience and not costing team at present negatively . How long his probation time might be will be dependent on injuries , and his ability to remain a positive with club . He does not look out of place on the ice , and appears to be getting better each outing .

    Many feel he will be sent down shortly or given only 9 games . Have a feeling Oilers would be calling him up for additional duty throughout the year due to injuries ,lack of productivity from RW throughout season , etc.. Probably closer to 39 games throughout season might be a better guess .

  • Glass

    I think its possible that the Oilers are waiting for Caggulia to come back and fill 3C and use Draisaitl as the solution to 2rw.

    Then I imagine we’ll see Pitlick and Kassian for 3/4 RW. Pak coming on as the extra forward while Slep and Pulj get sent to Bakersfield.

  • I like the time delay from when the questions are asked till when this article is posted. I know it was only one goal, but that Nuge, Pouliot, Kassian goal was fantastic last weekend. To me it showed they had Nuge out against the team’s most dangerous player, and Nuge made him look foolish.

    I am really loving Kassian’s play this year. That guy is a swiss army knife, he just brings it every game. I really hope they resign him for Hendricks money on a 3 year deal. It’s enough I think to say he’s earned it, but not enough that it’s risky if he falls off. I think the Nuge and Pouliot line will get going, but it will be on a night on the road when the other team line matches with some less stiff competition. I haven’t looked at the schedule, but I could see a team like Toronto trying to give the Nuge line someone like Kadri to face off against.

    Anyway, exciting days right now. Oh, and for the guy looking for a job, tons of Oilers blogs are always hiring. There’s some hoop jumping, but if that’s what you’re into, then get into it. Also lots of sites let you set yourself up with guest blogs. Pretty sure hockey buzz and many others let you write off your own profile. Then at least you are online.

    • S cottV

      Yeah – I thought Nuge looked pretty good vs the Jets. Let’s see if he can generate some consistency.

      Not sure about the prospects of Pouliot – Nuge – Kassian re consistent performance, with enough offence. If Nuge can orchestrate more o zone possession, using Pouliot and Kass to do the heavy lifting attached to puck protection and cycling – I could see the line being functional. Guys that chip in with timely offence but are capable of a consistent forward corsi. Nuge is not strong enough in the middle to achieve a consistent forward corsi, using rush tactics with Pouliot and Kassian. It only works maximizing the relative strengths amongst the 3 of them.

      Kassian is looking good and as a supporter of his from the start of rumors he might he headed our way – it’s nice to see.

      • As many here have noted, I imagine this gets sorted out once Cagguila is back at third line C. I think Puljujarvi gets sent down. I think the third line of Cagguila and either Kassian or Ptilick would be pretty good. I know Cagguila is a rookie, but sheltered minutes with vets, all three of which play a heavy game on the edge, all three hungry to move up in the line up.

        Depending on the match ups, maybe that line gets smashed out on scoring chances, but I bet their possession numbers are up. And I can also imagine no one would be pumped to play against that line. Though, really every line on the team now has a nasty presence on it.

        At any rate, I’ll be excited to see if Draisaitl Nuge and Pouliot can get that second line clicking.

  • Tony Montana

    Personally I would send JP down now. He may earn recalls throughout the year, so why run his total NHL games up now. In perfect world we should want to keep him at less than 10 games played for the year. He clearly is not quite ready for top 6 NHL duty and having him languish in the pressbox or play on the 3/4 lines is mismanaging the asset.

    • DannyGallivan

      Bang on. JP will get more ice time on the smaller NHL sized rink in the AHL than with the Oil and why burn his 9 games now. He may be needed with injuries and Slepy/Pitlick have played as well if not better so why keep him up. I see him sent down in the next few days to San Jose for the Condors games there on Friday and Saturday.

  • Been there

    Personally Pullijarvi looks tentative and slow with decision making at the moment. The adjustment to both ice surface and North American game takes time. I think he would be best served in the AHL for a time getting lots of minutes. Juhgar Khaira seems to be playing real well and could be added and split time with Shlepyshev seeing who wants it more. Just an opinion.

  • Petrolero

    Off topic but I hink the Jets are a far better team than the standings show. I think it’s the goaltending that is killing them right now. oilers been there. MAKES me appreciate talbot’s latest forts even more.

    • I’m not so sure they are. They have one good forward line, then are hoping a rookie winger can cover the rest of the offense. As Oiler fans, we know how that goes.

      On Defense, they have two good right side D, then… Enstrom – an undersized aging left D (see Ference).

      They played Byfuglin 30 min!!!!! against the Oilers. That to me is not a ‘good team being let down by goal tending.’ They have Trouba who they could have traded for Hamonic last year but didn’t. Who they are now playing hardball with. But even if they do sign him, he wants to play on the right side, so they relegate him to third pair?

      I think the Jets are indeed struggling with goal tending, as you mentioned. Apart from that they have an incomplete forward core, and an unbalanced D. And to top it all off they play in the toughest division.

  • RJ

    If you had to pick something good for the season, I’m finding it’s the little things that are making up a major difference. Drai and McDavid are winning more race-offs, which means more TOI for them and less Letestu.

    The puckmoving is much better. You’re not seeing them get stuck in their own end for minutes at a time. Controlled zone exits are improved, which shows that Larsson and Russell are much better at it then Jultz and Fayne. That gives them more time on attack, and their scoring differential is way up.

    Plus McDavid.

  • The Future Never Comes

    Personally, I like seeing people like Willis eat there number crunching stats. All those stat lines predicted a terrible season for the Oilers and that the team should still have Hall and not Larsson or Russell. Chew on that ya nerd!

  • A-Mc

    From this fan’s perspective, things are going well for the Oilers. I have no serious gripes with anything. Nuge’s line isn’t producing much but at the same time, i think they are playing well; no worries there.

    The only thing i wish the Oilers would do is send JP to the minors. It wont hurt the team to have him in bakersfield, and it will accelerate his timeline in catching up to the NA pace/game. If for some god given reason the Oilers make the playoffs this season, i really want JP coming back to the Oilers in DOMINATION mode; If he dawdles with the club all season, i don’t see that happening.


  • Max

    Usually every team has one or more ‘goat’ games. I hope Buffalo was our only one, get it out the way early. Loving how happy the team looks on and off the ice. Great time to be an Oilers’ fan. JP to AHL, keep Pitlick regardless of who comes back off IR.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    #5; I really enjoyed todays Mailbag more than most. I felt that there was a nice variety of questions and that the ones asked might actually bring varied responses from the team of writers. (Vs questions like “How do you like CMD so far?”) As a teacher I tell my students to write what you know and write every day. so your advice is bang on. I also really believe in the mantra of read as much as possible so as to improve your vocabulary. I would add one more bit of advice however and that is to dig deep in to the parts of Hockey, People, NHL etc that you have little interest in because the more you understand the game and all connected to it. For example there is very little writing on this blog that would appeal to most women. A great example would be to do an article about the change in Talbot’s family life including pictures etc. Women are interested in what people think about more than Corsi in most cases. Sure they may read some of those statistic articles and some of the ladies may be totally in to it. look for an unreached Niche in the Blog world and seek to meet it.

  • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

    To the blog; As a teacher, Oiler Fan and lover of great writing I would suggest the following. I would really enjoy a contest on writing for HS students that ran through out the year. You could ask the Oilers if they would allow you to bring a HS intern with you for say two weeks, two times per season. You would have a contest open to all High school students in Edmonton. You would need to have a way to limit the submissions so have it limited to a geographic area and have a school allowed to submit one Female and one male writers submission or some such thing. I for one have enjoyed reading Chris’s submissions and seeing him grow. Another possibility would be to have a space on your blog where teachers from one HS at a time are allowed to submit what students write to the blog. If I was a teacher or student the opportunity to have the general public respond and critique what they say. I for one would love to hear some 16-19 year old perspectives on the Oilers.

  • the reasonable person

    Does anyone know the name of that techno song they play at every home game? I can hum it but it’s hard to describe in words lol.

    Do-do-do-do-do-do-do-do dun-dun-dun dah-dah. Over and over again.

    It’s often heard in the 3rd period after TV timeouts/ before faceoffs, I believe.

  • So Why Didn’t The Blue Jackets Take Jesse Third ? Anyways , I Really Like The Kid , He’s Already Got His First NHL Goal . Whereever He Goes , He Can Only Get Better . Only Hall and Yak and that Defenceman Shaltz Can Get Worser

  • @Hallsy4

    For the panel members, and others, who trashed the Hall for Larsson deal when it happened… are you prepared to eat a portion of Crow after this hot start?

  • OilClog

    What adjustments has Kris Russell had to make?

    He’s tremendously better then any of the Stats community claimed him to be.

    He’s having no problem playing off hand.

    If Mark Fayne was an actual NHL defender in today’s NHL they never would of signed Russell.

  • Reinman

    Send Pool to the minors. If we are to give him 9 games, I would rather see them come at the end of the season, after he has had some time to play more on the smaller ice and acclimate to NA.