Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW(FE): Who goes down? Who comes up?

It was hoped that one of (or, hell, both of) Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto could take a step forward this season and fill a top-six role in the Oilers lineup.

Little over a month into the season, that hasn’t happened. Edmonton 2016 and 2017 first-round picks have recorded two goals and one assist combined and both youngsters have found themselves bouncing from the lineup to the press box.

Not only are Puljujarvi and Yamamoto not really helping the team right now, but they also aren’t developing in an ideal way. After playing in the team’s first five games, Puljujarvi has been a healthy scratch in five of the next 11 games. Yamamoto got an opportunity on the top line with Connor McDavid in Ty Rattie’s absence but has recently found himself in the press box.

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That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday question. Do you send both Puljujarvi and Yamamoto down to the AHL? If so, who do you replace them with on the roster?

I think the send them down part of the question is pretty obvious at this point. Like I said, neither Puljujarvi or Yamamoto are producing at the NHL level and they aren’t helping the team at this point. Beyond that, both players are more important as long-term assets to the team than they are as short-term assets. The Oilers are already weak on the wings and, in a cap world, you badly need to be able to internally develop players rather than augmenting your team with free agent signings.

Throwback Thursday: This week in 1979, Edmonton Oilers sign defenceman Charlie Huddy

There’s a tremendous amount of skill in both Puljujarvi and Yamamoto, but both are only 20 years old. We’re accustomed to Taylor Hall, Connor McDavid, and so on jumping into the NHL right out of junior and hitting the ground running, but that’s the exception, not the rule. In my opinion, both would be best served to play major minutes in the AHL, gaining confidence and refining their all-around game.

Bakersfield Condors head coach Jay Woodcroft.

Another thing to consider is that the Bakersfield Condors, unlike in the past, actually look like a good place to develop prospects right now. Multiple Condors youngsters have excelled this season under new head coach Jay Woodcroft. The kid line of Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, and Cameron Hebig are all operating at a point-per-game basis and young defenceman Caleb Jones has eight points in 10 games. It isn’t like in the past where the Oilers’ farm squad was purgatory where the prospects got shoved behind journeymen AHL veterans.

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What about roster replacements? An easy call-up would be veteran Brad Malone, who can play multiple positions, but who else? Would it be prudent to grab one of those kids who is excelling in the AHL? Cooper Marody already earned a short recall, but would it be contradictory to pull him from the AHL to give him a depth NHL role? Maybe they can look outside the organization for a filler. Tomas Plekanec was just released by the Canadiens and could be a versatile veteran to add to the mix.

What say you, Nation? Who goes down? Who comes up? 

  • Pul and Yam are able to be sent down because of the better play of Chaisson, Caggiula, and Rattie to fill in the very spots Jesse and Kailer should be in.

    Now, how about sitting Strome and/or Lucic a game? Everyone else in the bottom six, including Chaisson and Caggiula has sat, why not those two? Their offense and defense lately has been poor. Sit Russell too. He’s been dragging down Nurse on the second pair very badly the last several games.
    Put Nuge as 3rd line C for a game or two to send Strome a message.

    Call up Bear. The defense has no offense.

    Consider for the next game:
    Caggiula – McDavid – Rattie
    Rieder – Draisaitl – Chiasson
    Khaira – Nuge – Marody/P.Russell
    Benson/Malone – Brodziak – Kassian
    Sit: Lucic, Strome

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Benning
    Garrison – Bear
    Sit: Gravel

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      That might be too many messages to send. Haha… If Todd sat all the passengers vs. Florida we would have 8 players not in the press box next game. I mean even RNH (Mr. Steady) has a BS night.
      Seriously though, we should be more concerned with the team turning their fortunes around as a group. The roster is what it is and it seemed fine while the Oilers were on a tear (8-1-1, remember?). It’s a long season and I would lean towards sending messages in practice with bag skates, rather than playing the healthy scratch card, which should be a last resort for a coach.

    • Randaman

      Seriously? You think Russell is dragging down Nurse? Have we been watching different games? Nurse has looked terrible to say the least. Poor decision making, poor skating, not strong on his skates as he is getting pushed around more and he has lost that mean streak for some reason. Russell has looked great from my eye. Is he a first pairing D? NO but…

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        Nurse has been off since he signed, I dont know why but his timing is out of whack and he just seems a step behind. Russel isnt a spring chicken but while he isnt Karlsson, the guy isnt a huge liability either, christ Benning is more a liability than Russel is, even though he has been somewhat better, Benning isnt around the corner yet.

        • Glencontrolurstik

          The first time I was leary of Nurse & thought he should be viewed with caution was last years Post Season Tourney in Europe.
          He stunk in those games with absolutely zero effort.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Everytime I try to make lines it looks like patchwork by the 2nd line. This team an actual sniper. We need an actual 1st line Stud D-man. We need a goaltender that can give the guys in front if him some comfort that every mistake won’t end up in the back of the net. To answer who you send up or down..damn Good question. Sadly, there is half a team to send down and maybe Bouchard and Bear to come up. 3 points between JP and Yamo….wow we need to get Todd gone. It’s hard to make those talents that bad but he has achieved it.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      The coach doesn’t decide who plays in the AHL vs. NHL, the GM does. So until Chiarelli sends Jesse and Yamo down, Todd’s hands are tied. He has to put wins ahead of player development. Development is what the AHL is for.

      • Dallas Eakins Hair

        I think sitting Yamamoto out 3 straight and sitting Jesse 3 straight and both with no real minutes to show for it says a lot, but their is an issue Btwn Chia and TM, neither one wants to answer the question of all the why’s if they arent playing why are they here and if they are here why arent they playing

        There seems to be a game of chicken going on to see who blinks first btwn CHia and TM, TM seems like he is trying to force Chia’s hand by sitting them out, and then having the media hype up the situation to put pressure on Chia. Chis seems like he is not send them down to send TM a message, play them or face the barrage from the media on why you aren’t ( like what happened with Jesse and TM was seething from having to answer it over and over and over ) I dont think Chai likes that TM is trying to force him to send them down, but it is helping TM deflect reporters attention away from the bad PP and PK and why the Oilers are having trouble with starts and zone entries and defending after they promised big changes to the style of play, like the PP we are 16 games in and still TM is running with this 5 lefties on the PP which isnt working… but no one is asking that, its about Jesse and Yamamotot, so TM is deflecting having to getting peppered about it and it has cooled down about fire the coach…

        Their is some gamesmanship going on and it isnt all on the ice

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Wrong, the coach decides who he wants on the team with discussions with the GM. Ultimately it is the Coaches decision if a team is functioning on all cylinders, and the GM trusts his coaching staff. It’s the micro-managing GM’s, being one of the reasons that make a team dysfunctional. Chicago comes to mind this year.

        • Dallas Eakins Hair

          You really believe Chia and TM are seeing eye to eye right now? TM was on the hot seat last year and people wanted him out with the rest of the coaching staff and Chia right behind him.

          TM will be the first sacrifice to the fans, Chia could be right behind him, but I think he could survive the year if TM goes out the door. Because Chia can say we needed a different coaching style and yada yada yada. If the Oilers continue to slump after a coaching change and no real line up changes you bet Chia will be out next.

          If Chia wanted Jesse in teh line up he’d play him he doesnt Chia doesnt hasnt wanted to send him down because Jesse is going to be near the end of his contract soon, the Oilers are going to have an issue with him… try and sign him, try and trade him or Jesse can go to europe or the KHL. Chia isn’t going to want to face the questions of why Jesse development isn’t going anywhere after almost 3 years in the organisation Chia is going to have to answer why a top 5 pick couldnt work in the Oilers system? TM doesnt really want to play him. Jesse cant be too happy with how things have faired. Is Jesse really going to want to come back if TM is here and he isnt getting ahead in being a full time NHL player? There doesnt seem to be any answers from anyone in the Oilers organisation as to why they cant develop their picks and we have blew a lot of them.

          TM and Chia should both go, but TM will be the first to hit the chopping block.

          Does TM have say in who he plays sure, but Chia and the folks in upper mgmt have way more sway then you think. TM may be the coach but if Chia wants someone to play, they will play that is TM’s boss and he didnt get cleaned out last time the firing spree happened, I doubt that was luck…lol

  • bcoil

    It would seem that JP’s agents are trying to dictate his development .Isa Tikannen is part of JP’s camp and when interviewed the other night was pushing for JP too get more playing time. Are we ever going to get away from the old boys club from the 80’s trying to run this club . There should be a rule that no old oiler is allowed in the building with out taking an oath to stay out of the teams business.

    • Dallas Eakins Hair

      I cant blame them though, I said earlier Jesse came into the preseason flying he was making plays, he was dangerous and he looked full of confidence, look at the kid now mna, he doesnt looking he knows what to do, afraid to make a mistake, somewhat engaged, but no smile on his face. I agree they want to get him playing more minutes and he should it just needs to be down in the AHL and away from TM. There is some kind of issue with TM and him and it seems to be beyond hockey

      • Glencontrolurstik

        Nope, he is just making mistakes, now he’s too afraid to make them that he can’t play hockey any more… There is no fun at all in that…
        Go down for a couple of season’s until everything is second nature & you can’t learn anymore… Trade a draft pick for someone to fill his shoes Then Bob’s UR Uncle.

      • MrBung

        Because preseason means nothing. Playing a bunch of AHL/KHL level guys trying to make it. Pool Party will be a great play in the KHL but another Yak 2.0 in NHL.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Leave everybody with talent in the minors until we get someone behind the bench who knows how to develop talent. Please don’t let them ruin Bouchard too. The AHL is a safe place to let them develop and to not have them ruined . Until the losing culture changes on the Oil, leave them in the vault for better days

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Yamamoto and Jesse need to go to the AHL, Jesse had confidence at the start of preseason and tm has shattered that kids confidence, Jesse needs to get away from TM and just have fun playing hockey again, get a ton of minutes in and get on the PP. Yamamoto had a great pre season and while he has done some good things while he has been here, the points just arent coming for him, the kid has sat out 4 games, let him go and tear it up in the AHL and play.

    Strome ought to be sat for a couple of games.Honestly package Strome and Kassian together and get what you can. Strome still has issues with footspeed he isnt great on the face off dot and he isnt putting up points, both of those contracts make them difficult to go

    • bcoil

      This is the NHL not a development league .You are supposed know the basics playing a 200 ft game when you get here and if you don’t you should be back in the minors until till you do. TM is coaching to win not pamper a entitled kid. JP needs to grow up . And his agents should stay out of the conversation because if they don’t JP will get a rep and no one will want him anywhere in the league .Just like Yakapov

    • bcoil

      This is the NHL not a development league .You are supposed know the basics playing a 200 ft game when you get here and if you don’t you should be back in the minors until till you do. TM is coaching to win not pamper a entitled kid. JP needs to grow up . And his agents should stay out of the conversation because if they don’t JP will get a rep and no one will want him anywhere in the league .Just like Yakapov .

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Call me sentimental, but I think Kass should stay. Yes I know he is overpaid… He is playing better lately and will be worth his weight in gold in the playoffs. I love guys with that much speed/character/menace. I see him as part of the solution, not part of the problem. I agree with you on Strome – he can go for draft picks. I believe some combo of (RNH) JJ, Brodz, Marody, and Malone (maybe even Hebig) could get the job done just as well as Strome has this year. I’m looking forward to seeing Ryan McLeod next year. That kid has rocket skates.

  • FanBoy

    I would send both down, but I’d look for waiver wire pickups to fill out the 23 man roster. Leave Bakersfield as they are, Marody, Hebig, and Benson are doing great down there, no need to recall them just yet because if they don’t put up points, we’d say they were “rushed”. I understand why some would say Malone but he is a leader in that locker room, I’d keep him down there.

    This is when I wish we’d have kept Aberg and signed another guy like Nick Shore, guys who we don’t need to develop and just keep the bench warm until they get a crack at it.

  • Kneedroptalbot

    Let the kids play, they are learning and improving. That’s very important moving forward.
    Sit out (pressbox) the 2 worst forwards (statistically) on the team.
    #18, #27, or #28 (pick 2). A bit of time in the press box would serve them well.

  • Glencontrolurstik

    The team should get two serviceable wingers & maybe a D for draft picks (round dependent on the players you get) then send them down for a couple O’ years. win now,… period.
    No one in Bakersfield is NHL ready, quit fooling yourselves… Just do it alrady so we don’t have to keep answering this question. It’s driving the fanbase away for gords sake. It’s Mickey Mouse having a company with this size of a payroll & money generation and not pulling the trigger on obvious changes to better the organization.

  • Soccer Steve

    Not exactly a forgone conclusion that they get sent down to a pro league like the AHL and have success. It’s a league with men playing for their livelihoods. They don’t just roll over down there.
    Anyways, they should never even have set foot in the NHL this year and that they did screams of the ever present incompetence of the Oilers management.

    Yet another blunder in the long, long, long list.

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I’ve got a GREAT idea!

    To minors:

    Jesse Puljujärvi + Ryan Strome + Matt Benning

    To NHL:

    Tyler Benson + Ryan McLeod + Caleb Jones





  • TKB2677

    The Oilers scratched 2 forwards for last game. Khaira and Yamamoto. Only Puljujarvi played on the 4th line. So if you send down both Puljujarvi and Yamo, all you need to do is put in Khaira on the 4th line to have 4 complete lines. Then call up Brad Malone to sit in the press box and be the 13th forward. Brad Malone is 30, him sitting in the pressbox does nothing to hurt him. Yamo and Puljujarvi are not qualified yet to play any higher in the line up that the 3rd line and I don’t even think they are good enough right now to play on the 3rd line.

  • Sparky Blue

    Let me get this. We want to send both JP and Yamo to Bakersfield. There they will be de eloped by a coach that couldn’t run either the pp or Pi in Edmonton last year. Am I right so far?

    • Big Nuggets

      Exactly, just do the basic thing you would do with any prospect, let them develop and call them up when they look ready. It makes management’s competence look highly questionable when they are so prone to wishful thinking regarding prospects.

  • Edsez

    Why is this still a question? Caggiula, Chaisson & Rattie have been more effective and productive, it’s past time for Yamamoto and Puljajarvi to be honing their game in Bakersfield.

  • Gravis82

    Do you even watch the oilers?

    “It was hoped that one of (or, hell, both of) Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto could take a step forward this season and fill a top-six role in the Oilers lineup”

    The one who could, had been playing on the 3rd line, and the one who can’t, has been playing on the top line. Yet no mention of the coach in this article

    I’d fire the coach

      • Quoteright

        It is also hard to forget that the extremely talented Sharks had their best season after they were past their prime and the first year he was gone. Not great optics

        • Big Nuggets

          It would be cool to see what Quennville could do. But I don’t see them firing Todd when the team has a winning record. Maybe they will make an exception if Coach Q is their guy, kinda like how Eakins was their guy that one time.

  • Quoteright

    Why is it that we can’t shelter our prospects on the fourth line?
    This whole Gregor stance on 2nd line success or Ahl seems absurd. That’s what 4th lines are, sheltered.