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Photo Credit: © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Jesse Puljujarvi: The 26-Goal Man

Last week I broke down the Hockey News projections for the Oilers and like usual it left me shaking my head. This week I got my hands on the Sports Forecaster Magazine, which is usually my favourite hockey annual.

I’m not going to say I’m disappointed by the predictions for the Oilers but I will admit I’m a bit confused.

The Sports Forecaster is predicting the Oilers to have three forwards average at least a point per game, three other forwards with more than 40 points and Cam Talbot having a save percentage of .915 yet they think the team will miss the playoffs. It doesn’t add up.

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In addition to McDavid, Draisaitl and Nuge all averaging at least a point per game they also have Jesse Puljujarvi finishing with 26 goals. If the big Finnish winger manages to score 26 times the Oilers will be very pleased, not to mention they’ll have to pay the kid. If Puljujarvi gets consistent top six minutes I’d be disappointed if he doesn’t score 20 but in order to hit 26 he’ll probably need some action on the top unit power-play.

Here are all the predictions for the Oilers and my thoughts on each of them.

FORWARDS

Mar 24, 2018; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his first period goal against Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Connor McDavid – 120 points

This is the exact number I’m predicting for McDavid as well. The captain will have to clip along at 1.42 points per game to reach the 120 mark, a pace I think is reasonable. The magazine has McDavid winning the Art-Ross by a 20-point margin over Sidney Crosby.

Leon Draisaitl – 83 points

Draisaitl fell from 77 points in 2016-17 down to 70 points last season, a drop that some people are completely blowing out of proportion. A 70-point season is nothing to sneeze at and I don’t think anyone should be overly concerned with the body of work Draisaitl put together last season. With all that being said, an 83-point campaign would go a long way towards securing a playoff spot.

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Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – 79 points

If Nugent-Hopkins is going to hit the 79-point plateau he’ll need to spend at least three-quarters of the season riding shotgun with McDavid. They are predicting the Nuge to play 78 games and finish with 79 points, which means he’ll hit a point per game for the first time in his career.

Milan Lucic – 49 points

This would be an extremely nice bounce-back season for Lucic as they have him pencilled in for 20 goals and 29 assists. Prior to last season’s debacle, Lucic had back-to-back 50-point campaigns so 49 points is a reasonable number if he does get back on track.

Jesse Puljujarvi – 48 points

How does 26 goals from Jesse Puljujarvi sound? It sounds like a top six forward to me. In a perfect world, I’d like to see JP start on Draisaitl’s wing and remain there for the entire season. I’d bet money he hits 20 goals if Todd McLellan doesn’t bury him on the third line for half the season.

Ryan Strome – 43 points

This may be shooting a little bit high for Strome but if he can contribute on the power-play it’s not a completely unreachable total. It would be nice to see Strome develop some chemistry with someone on the third line early in the season.

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Drake Caggiula – 39 points

I’m sorry but this isn’t going to happen, what more do I need to say?

Tobias Rieder – 35 points

I know a 35-point season from Rieder is more than reasonable but I’m just expecting more based on the fact he should be given some pretty good opportunity offensively in this line-up.

Kailer Yamamoto -31 points

We should note that they have him hitting 31 points in 63 games. If Yamamoto is able to produce at a .49 PPG clip in his rookie season the Oilers will most definitely have something to build on.

Jujhar Khaira – 28 points

Khaira had 21 points in 69 games last year, nice. The most important thing for Khaira will be to remain in the line up every game, if he can do that the rest will take care of itself.

Kyle Brodziak – 22 points

This is the exact same total the Hockey News had predicted for Brodziak so who am I to argue.

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Aberg/Rattie/Kassian –Not Available

The Forecaster didn’t have predictions for this trio. They projected the top 400 scorers in the league and none of them factored in.

Defence

February 9, 2018; Anaheim, CA, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom (77) shoots against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Oscar Klefbom – 32 points

If Klefbom ends up being a mainstay on the top unit power-play 32 points will be unacceptable. I’m not sure who takes first unit minutes away from him.

Darnell Nurse – 27 points

Considering what Nurse was able to produce at even strength last year I actually think this is a reasonable number.

Evan Bouchard – 24 points

They’ve got Bouchard locked in for 24 points in 50 games but the problem I have with that is if Bouchard is producing .48 PPG he should be in the line up for 82 games.

Matt Benning – 22 points

Last year Benning was at .29 PPG, they’ve got him down for a slight increase to .31 this year.

Adam Larsson – 21 points

Taylor who?

Russel/Gravel/Sekera – Not Available

In Closing

The Forecaster is projecting very good seasons for McDavid (120 pts), Draisaitl (83 pts), Nuge (79 pts), Puljujarvi (26g) and Lucic (49 pts). If all five of those guys reach their projected totals I’d have to disagree with the magazine and say the Oilers actually do make the playoffs. If Caggiula hits 39 points…I’ll print off this article and eat it.

Previously by Dustin Nielson:



  • Bauerxxx

    Oh man I want Caggiula 39 points not just so I can actually see some paper getting eaten.

    On another note don’t see Puljujarvi getting 26 goals that total is more likely to come from a revolving door of wingers on McDavids line in Puljujarvi, Rattie, and Yamamoto.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    I’m generally a positive, glass-half-full Oilers fan, but I also generally avoid The Sports Forecaster this time of year. It’s probably a bit too positive and pie-in-the-sky… and it does that to attract readers and buyers. Nothing wrong with that – each publication can spin their own way to attract readers.

  • Bills Bills

    Drake would need to have a serious uptick to hit 39 but I don’t think it is out of the question if he gets there some day on a career year. I would be happy if he improves on last year’s 13 goals and gets 15 but he is still young and if he continues to work hard and improve, what more do you want?

  • OriginalPouzar

    Drai was excellent offensively last season and scored at a first line rate while away from McDavid and doing so with a revolving door or, mostly, middling and, often, tweener, wingers.

    He hit 70 points with very little PP production – he scored very well at 5 on 5. We know the PP will bounce back and Leon’s PP production will increase – add that to very good 5 on 5 production and he very well could be over a PPG with nominal 5 on 5 time with McDavid.

    A wonderful offensive player.

    • Redbird62

      If Naturalstattrick is to be believed, without McDavid, the team scored at a rate of 2.67 GF/60 with Drai on the ice 5 on 5. That rate would place him around 110 in the league among forwards who played more than 600 minutes 5 on 5 (Drai played 628 w/o Connor). That is border line first line rate or below, given that there are only 93 first line spots. Still very good with second line wingers (or worse) and Drai at his age still has lots of upside. The area of concern was that Drai’s line without Connor was getting scored against at a rate of 3.61 GA/60. That outcome needs to be improved a lot, and can it come without sacrificing offense? It is a team game and that will depend on the quality of players on the ice with him but Drai is personally accountable for his share of that as he still has lots to learn. That to me is the reason why McClellan took so long to switch him and Hopkins as he wasn’t ready for it. But over the last month, after Hopkins got back from injury the Oilers could take that risk since the season was lost anyway. If the coaches are doing their job, they will be going over film from the last part of the season with Drai pointing out what needs to be improved in this area. Based on Drai’s track record over his time with the Oilers of working on and succeeding at what needs to be improved, I am optimistic he will improve in this area as well. If not, Hopkins and Drai will likely get swapped again. This is painfully obvious, but the Oilers need Drai’s line to outscore the opposition or at least stay even, regardless of his total point count for that arrangement to be successful.

  • Moneyball

    Caggiula could get 39 points. The guy plays hard, goes to the tough areas, takes pucks to the face and comes out for a shift after getting stitched up. He also shows flashes of excellence and has a great shot.

    20 Puljujarvi on the other hand… I can’t see him breaking out, he’s a third line guy that doesn’t play well with Mcdavid or Draisaitl.

  • VK63

    Draisaitl suffered a registered concussion early in the year. I realize some people live by “if it can’t be measured it doesn’t matter” on this forum, but…… It freaking does matter.
    Drai was not himself until after xmas and arguably never was as physically engaged or as keen to dart to traffic as he showed in previous campaigns. Clearly, to blame that conclusively on a concussion is over fitting a convenient narrative but it is certainly within the realm of defensible arguments that Leon’s concussion was a contributing factor in his production numbers falling off. How significant is anyones guess but one needs look no further than Auston Matthews production after his second bell ring last season to see what sorts of causation to correlation arguments TBI (traumatic brian injury) can offer.
    However.

    Garry Bettman says its no big deal.
    Lets go with that.
    Shall we.

  • Chris Prongers Rake

    If those are the numbers they are giving Oilers, what would the Leafs be at, probably 5 – 100pt forwards, 6 – 40pt defenseman and a Vezina winning goaltender. I hate the Leafs, hope the city falls in Lake Ontario.

  • toprightcorner

    Based on these predictions, It seems as though they have the Oilers in the top 5-10 for offense. If Talbot has a .915 SV%, that would put him in the top 15. How on earth can a team with that offense ad quality goaltending not make the playoffs?? This is more offense than the Oilers had 2 years ago and Talbots SV% is only down by .04%.

    If the Oilers meet these projections listed, the fans should be extremely excited as it means a definite playoff position with a good chance to win a round or more.

  • bazmagoo

    I really don’t understand the Cagguila hate on Oilers. 3rd year pro, played out of position for 2/3 of his pro career so far, fights, gritty, competes, what more do you guys expect? It’s very strange.

  • Seanr

    It’s become very apparent Drake is the next oiler the city has chosen to run outta town. It’s pathetic. The kid has a ton of potential it was his sophmore season… Tons of players go through the sophmore slump, by you guys are already willing to run him outta ton.
    I’ve got Drake with 18 to 20 goals and 20 assists. sharing between 2nd and 3rd line duties.
    I laugh every time I hear someone trash this kid then say “this is the year Jesse pullarvi breaks out” the kid is a pylon. All the tools but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. Don’t believe me, watch all his NHL goals. (and there isn’t many) kid whiffs on every shot he takes! Yet all I hear is…. Kids got such an amazing shot. (must have been the other Jessie pullarvi in the draft) cuz it ain’t this one!