Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY Sports

Jesse Puljujarvi loaned to Finland for the World Championships

Jesse Puljujarvi is going to be playing some high-stakes hockey in April, but so far at least it won’t be for the Edmonton Oilers. The team announced Wednesday morning that the young right wing was being loaned to Finland’s national team for the World Championships.

Judging by the official announcement, this is a pretty good example of the Oilers getting to have their cake and eat it, too. Because Puljujarvi may be recalled at any time, the Oilers are not locked-in to playing without him in the postseason.

Right now Edmonton has a wealth of depth options up front, with Anton Slepyshev, Iiro Pakarinen, Matt Hendricks, Jujhar Khaira and Anton Lander all vying for a single rotating forward spot. Even if the coaching staff sours on David Desharnais or Benoit Pouliot or someone else, there are plenty of candidates for the available work.

There’s an argument to be made that Puljujarvi deserves a shot ahead of some of those players, but Todd McLellan is the man making that call and in the first half of the season it became apparent that Puljujarvi did not have his confidence. It seems unlikely that the rookie would be his first choice in a playoff situation, which would mean a long stint in the press box.

Still, it’s nice to have the option. Puljujarvi has a wealth of raw physical talent and shows signs of being a strong possession player. Injuries happen in hockey and over a long playoff run he might very well be needed.

This way, the Oilers retain that ability. More than that, they keep Puljujarvi playing, rather than watching, hockey. Not only are the World Championships are a big deal, especially in Europe, but the level of competition is high and teams are playing elimination games. Finland typically puts together a strong team; last year they lost the gold medal game to Canada, with Connor McDavid scoring the winner. It’s a good way for a young player to end his year, provided that playoff hockey isn’t an option.

And this way, if the Oilers do need to call on Puljujarvi at some point, they won’t need to worry about him trying to amp up his game to playoff intensity on a few minutes a night. He’ll already be playing top-flight hockey.

  • If Puljujarvi wasn’t going to get into any games for the Oilers it makes sense for him to play for Finland at the Worlds. The kid is still 18 years old and would normally be doing junior things. This will be some good competition for him right now.

  • deferoiler

    No need to rush a gem of a prospect into only the most intense hockey on earth. Let him tear it up and the world’s and hopefully he will come into training camp next fall with something to prove

    • rivid

      Maybe it’s just me but to call him a gem prospect seems a little much, What has he really done so far to be considered this? because from what l have seen he would be average or under, its not like he has lit it up in the AHL. If being drafted number 3 makes him a gem, then we may be a little nervous. This comment was not to slight anyone, just asking a question which l thought was fair.

      • Redbird62

        Probably his most outstanding credential to be billed a gem prospect was being named the 2016 WJHC MVP leading Finland to a gold medal with 17 points in 7 games (which also led the tournament). Matthews, Tkachuk, Nylander, Aho, Marner and Laine were all at that tournament as well and I believe all are older than Puljujarvi though Laine not by much. Not all make the jump to the NHL at the same progression.

      • Reinman

        He has all the tools. Everyone knew Draisaitl would turn the corner after his lack luster first exposure to the NHL. Same thing with Puljujarvi. He will be a great winger for the Oilers someday… And most likely some day will be pretty soon.

  • Mitch92

    That is pretty cool. Puljujarvi was not likely going to see any action with the big club during the playoffs anyway so give him this experience. If he goes and plays with some good players he may light it up and earn an early call-back if injuries hit and we need a right winger with size and offense. I heard that Laine is not going. Is Aho going? Komarov is still in the play-offs.