Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Jesse’s Turn?

It’s been duly noted that sophomore right winger Jesse Puljujarvi took some line rushes alongside Connor McDavid and Milan Lucic when the Edmonton Oilers skated at Rogers Place this morning. That, as you’d expect, has some people, me included, wondering if Puljujarvi might be in the same spot when the Toronto Maple Leafs come calling Thursday.

That possibility is largely going to depend on the health of goaltender Cam Talbot, who, according to coach Todd McLellan, tweaked something in his upper body in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes. As of writing this, no decision about Talbot’s status had been announced by the Oilers.

If Talbot can’t go or needs time on the IR, the Oilers will have to call up a goaltender (Nick Ellis) from the Bakersfield Condors and send down either Anton Slepyshev or Puljujarvi because they’re on ELCs and don’t need waivers. If Talbot can dress, or the recall is made and Slepyshev gets the AHL ticket, we could see Puljujarvi with McDavid against Toronto.

I’d like to see it work out that Puljujarvi gets the push against the Maple Leafs. Beyond that, I’m of the mind that Puljujarvi should get that push (whenever it comes) not just for a shift or two or a period or two, but for a stretch of games to see if he’s ready to take the role and run with it. Three games? Four games? More? I don’t know the number, but if the Oilers are grooming the big Finn for a top-six role, and they better be, then let’s see what he got.

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Nov 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) and center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) congratulate right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (98) after he scored a goal against the New York Rangers during first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Puljujarvi, 19, has played 106 minutes through eight games, for an average of 13:13 per game, so we haven’t seen a lot of him so far this season. He’s produced 2-0-2 in that playing time — one of those goals came on a wicked one-timer in a 6-2 waltz over the Detroit Red Wings. Puljujarvi has moved around a bit since being recalled and hasn’t had much of a look in the top six.

From where I sit, I’d like to see that change – sooner than later. It goes without saying the Oilers need every point they can get right now, starting with the two up for grabs against Toronto, so I’m not intent on seeing Puljujarvi gifted minutes with McDavid he can’t handle, but I’d also like to see him get more than a few shifts or a period or two to show whether he’s ready for more prime minutes.

It’s a balance to be sure and it’s one that will have to come with the forward lines being a moving target. If McLellan goes with McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins down the middle, there’s room for Puljujarvi with No. 97. I’d also like to see Puljujarvi as a shooting option off the wall on the power play. The Other lines today were Patrick Maroon with RNH and Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula with Draisaitl and Ryan Strome and Jujhar Khaira with Mark Letestu and Zack Kassian.

It’s not make-or-break time with Puljujarvi (he’s only got 36 NHL games on his resume), but I’d like to see a guy who shoots the puck like No. 98 does play a stretch with a guy who moves it like McDavid does. If it’s obvious he’s not ready for the role after three or four games, change it up. There’s something to be said for some consistency in line combinations beyond a period or two. It’s not like you’d be breaking up any trios going great guns right now.

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  • As you’d expect, there’ll be lots of eyes on McDavid and Toronto’s Auston Matthews tomorrow and the Oilers’ captain was asked about that in the post-practice scrum. “He’s obviously a real good player. He’s got a great shot, I think one of the best in the league, just in terms of accuracy and how fast he can get it off and all that. He’s definitely a real special player.”
  • The Oilers are looking to make it three straight wins for the first time this season against the Maple Leafs. The Oilers last managed that feat in their final three games of last season, beating San Jose 4-2 and Vancouver 3-2 and 5-2.


  • Bringer_Of_Snow

    Jesse should be in the lineup, and so should Slepy… I think Slepy is better in all aspects of the game than Paks. I would just swap them out on the 4th line. And if Cammilari still pays bad, swap Jujhar for him (when he’s healthy)


    • FISTO Siltanen

      Two questions:

      Why do you have a right shot and left shot wingers on opposite sides of Connor?

      Why do you think Cammi played a bad game? Thought he was solid.

  • ScottV

    Agreed – on JP. McL is awful at blending forwards all over the place and hard on the guys we need to gain traction – like JP. McL is constantly in search of his holy grail offensive chemistry experiment after experiment after experiment. It creates short term – knee jerk – better make something happen or who knows where I end up – chaos. More often than not – the result is that the puck is in the wrong net.

    The more interesting match up to me – will be McL vs Babcock.

    Who’s team is gonna look more disciplined, structured, game managed, ready to play and determined to win?

    I think McD is a little better than Matthews.

    But – Babcock is a lot better than McL

    • Leichs

      Im sure Jesse will get 2 shifts with McD and if nothing is happening he will get banished to the third or fourth as per usual. Cant stand how fast Todd blends the lines.. Let the guy get some chemistry with someone for more than two shifts is that so hard? And whats with Pak playing in the NHL? In what world is he earning spots over Jesse, JJ and Shlep? He brings nothing other than a tiny bit of physicality and we are constantly hemmed with him on the ice.

      • 99CupsofCoffey

        I agree. it’s a crapshoot once the Top Line takes the ice for the third time in a game. It’s amazing what short leashes these guys have, and it seems to make them grip that stick like they’re dangling from it from the Stantec Tower.

  • Axiv

    Jesse is the type of player that the old school, tough love, earn your minutes, kid, approach isn’t going to work with. It has been very obvious by watching him over the past several years. When he’s confident, he’s a game changer (see WJC, outdoor game vs. Winnipeg last year–playing Laine (extra motivation), and his first game this year against NYR). He needs to be gifted some time and skilled linemates that he believes he’ll be able to create some offense with. Further, he needs powerplay time, where he’ll have more time and space with the puck where he can make plays and gain confidence.

    It’s completely ridiculous to me that you’ve got a fourth overall pick with the best shot on the team, who is struggling with his confidence, but you’re not putting him in the best position for him to succeed. Instead, you push him to down 13 minutes a game in the bottom six (or healthy scratch) with no powerplay time and expect him to force your hand. The coaching staff is justifying it by stating they’re icing the lineup they feel gives them the best chance to win that night, but if they sacrificed the short term (5-10 games) to get Puljujarvi’s confidence up and he plays to his potential, the team will be better by game 11 than they would be otherwise. They’re near the bottom of the league anyway.

    • Moneyball

      Puljujarvi has to earn a spot. Being gifted time will just cost you games and sends the wrong message to your other players. Right now oh is a borderline nhler that I personally would have traded last season for a guy like Duchene or a better #4 dman.

      • Axiv

        Kind of like the spot players like Caggiula, Slepeshev, and Cammalleri earned? And when Puljujarvi was with Lucic and RNH he was the second best player on that line for the games he played, but it was he, and not Lucic who got bumped. What sort of message does that send to Puljujarvi? I get what you’re saying, but it’s hypocritical to apply that to only Jesse when it clearly hasn’t been applied to several other players in the lineup. And he’s a borderline NHLer when his confidence is low, but in games where he’s looked confident he has been among the Oilers’ best players.

        • Moneyball

          All those guys you mention have proven their stripes in the NHL. I hope PJ turns out to be a great NHL player but that is up to him not anyone else. Nothing in handed out without a cost. Caggiula, slepyshev and Cammaleri are all better players that have earned a spot right now and there is nothing wrong with that.

  • Delirious

    Put pool party on pp1 over letestu and add sone dynamic to the pp. Same old doesn’t work with all the video involved now. A tight box just stops any attempts

  • Winterkush

    Having JP on McD line will cause him to shoot more. You can tell JP isn’t a natural shooter. Natural shooters can find open ice and get themselves into position at the right moment. JP always tries to join in on the battles even though there are 2 oilers already battling for the puck. JP can shoot the puck but the Coach lacks coaching.

  • Winterkush

    The problem with the Oilers for the last handful of years is that there has been no veteran offensive talent to mentor the kids.
    For example:
    Kucherov has Stamkos
    Toffoli has Kopitar
    Shciefle has Wheeler
    Rickell has Getzlaf and Perry
    Looking around the league almost all good players have a veteran mentor while the oilers have Lucic?Maroon?
    What this team needs is a guy like James Neal. McDavid is great but he is not a full grown man.
    Salary cap won’t be a problem next year. Strome, Benning, Drake won’t be getting much more than a $500k raise each. Nurse will be bridged. Maroon and Letestu wont be resigned. It can be done.

    • Winterkush

      *Looking around the league all these good teams don’t have McD, Leon or Nuge but have men that can forecheck and move the puck. Oilers lost Sekera and trade off Eberele for a lesser offensive player. Just shows you how fragile this team is when it looses offensive talent.

  • OilCan2

    Some one has to fill in the gap left by Ebs on RW. Jesse should be given a chance. If the Oilers can get two more Ws this week they are at .500 on the season.

  • Snoop Scottie Dogg

    What JP needs to stop doing is ramming his tongue up his nose when the camera is on him. Mmmmm salty.

    Remember that lady that sat beside Gretz at one game last year? She picked her nose and ate it while on camera? Ewwwe. Where is she now….