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Photo Credit: © Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Puljujarvi Recall Coming?

Tuesday started with a coaching change and finished with an overtime win over the Sharks, so yes, it was a busy day for the Oilers.

One of the tidbits that flew under the radar is the rumoured return of Jesse Puljujarvi. Golden Bears Play-By-Play legend Bob Stauffer tweeted this out on Tuesday evening.

Peter Chiarelli was asked about the kids during his first post-Todd media availability on Tuesday morning. “We certainly talked about a number of things, including integrating some youth, those players specifically. They’ve got a good stretch of games this week, I’ll be at two of them, Keith (Gretzky) will be at three of them, so we’ll see how those guys are doing but yes that was a planned discussion.”

There was a lot of speculation during Todd McLellan’s time here in Edmonton that he and Chiarelli didn’t always see eye to eye on the usage of Jesse Puljujarvi. The debate didn’t end at the General Manager level either. Multiple sources have told me a number of people higher up in the organization believe Puljujarvi should be seeing top six minutes on a regular basis.

HOW HAS HE PLAYED?

By all accounts, Puljujarvi has been very good over his first three games with the Condors. If Stauffer’s Tuesday suggestion holds true the smiling Finn will play two more games with the Condors. He didn’t pick up any points in his first game but he did have four shots on goal, dropped the gloves and was playing very physical.

In his second game he was first star finishing with a goal and an assist to pace a five goal third period come from behind win for the Condors.

He played his third game in Bakersfield just last night and once again had an assist. His helper came off a rebound after he fired a one-timer from the left half wall on the power-play. He also had a chance from the same spot on an earlier man advantage off a nice feed from Kailer Yamamoto.

He certainly hasn’t gone down to Bakersfield to just go through the motions. He once again looks like the player who was dominant at times during the pre-season. It remains to be seen if he can do it during the regular season at the NHL level.

SHOULD THEY CALL HIM UP?

Oct 16, 2018; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Edmonton Oilers right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (98) celebrates his third period goal against Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

It’s good to see this player finding some confidence both with and without the puck; that’s the exact reason they sent him down. Is a five game stint in the American Hockey League all he needs right now?

Forty-eight hours ago I would have thought he’d be down in Bakersfield for a good 15-20 game stretch but the situation has obviously changed. In a perfect world Jesse would remain with the Condors until he is too good for league but Chiarelli, clearly, doesn’t operate in a perfect world.

The other thing that should factor in here is how the team is playing. What if they’ve won three games in a row, are you going to force your new coach to insert a 20-year old who hasn’t played an NHL game in three weeks back into a winning line up?

WHERE DO YOU PUT HIM?

If Puljujarvi does indeed get called back up prior to the game against Dallas there is only one place to play him that really makes sense. I’d put him alongside Nugent-Hopkins on the second line. At this stage of his career Nugent-Hopkins is reliable enough at both ends of the rink and has enough experience to help mentor Puljujarvi a bit. Hell, if the organization thought Ryan Strome could do it why not Nuge?

If you are going to bring him back up here to play outside of the top six you might as well just leave him in Bako. I refuse to believe that Chiarelli is going to push for a recall and then allow Hitchcock to play him on the third line for 11 minutes a night, won’t happen.

I guess there is the outside chance he plays alongside McDavid but going from the AHL to the top line in Edmonton is reserved for guys like Ty Rattie.

Speaking of Rattie, he could end up being the odd man out. He spent the majority of his time in St. Louis fighting to find a spot in a Hitchcock line up and it never really worked out. Maybe a fresh start for both in Edmonton is exactly what they need, maybe not.

SOOOOOOOO….

Sep 18, 2018; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi (98) celebrates his goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the first half at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

As most of you already know there is nothing I’d like to see more than Puljujarvi playing top six minutes and actually getting the role of the shooter on one of the power-play units but I fear they may be pulling the trigger on a call up a little too soon.

What Say You?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Spydyr

    How about they call him up when he plays well enough to earn it? Then play him in the top six or send him back down. Once again this is not very difficult.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Well, he has been Bakersfield’s top forward in all three games (notwithstanding Joe G.’s two goals last night – Jesse was driving the play, as he has in all three games).

      • The future never comes

        Hebig scored a hatty yesterday, not sure why you left that out. Also, just curious how do you know he has been driving the play? You watch the games online?

          • OriginalPouzar

            Hebig had one goal yesterday, not three.

            Yes, I have watched every Condors game this year (well, some just bits and pieces like last night as it was on in the background given the Oilers played at the same time).

            AHL TV pass for a single team was $60 for the year – no brainer

    • Romanus

      I agree. Also, with Hitch at the helm now, he will be even harder on him than TMac if he makes poor defensive decisions. Look at Yakupov in St Louis. 3 days is not proving he is ready, let him play 20. I doubt that he will be a difference maker yet.

  • The future never comes

    I think he is a better option than many players out there right now. Let him play 22 minutes a night for the next three games in Bakersfield to grow the confidence higher. Bring him up and play him with Nuge. Its apparent our lineup needs more skill. Push Marody down if he isn’t going to play at least 12 minutes a night. We cant bring in young guys to sit them and kill their belief system, when they could be bubbling under in Bake.

  • Big Nuggets

    Maybe Hitch will try the Drai-Nuge combo and stick Puljujarvi on with McDavid. Hopefully it was just McLellen’s coaching that kept Puljujarvi from succeeding in the big leagues.

  • Quoteright

    I love that Hitch realized th 4th line was actually our third, in a similar vein, most teams develop young players on the 4th line. Shelter them while teaching and elevate when deserving. Any player would rather be making NHL money and playing less then playing more and making less. Going back over ex Oilers comments of the intensity of other teams practices is hopefully going to end with Hitch. Practice with intention and purpose while being properly communicated with can definitely help with our development.
    Hearing players say that they didn’t know what Tod expected seemed like a huge red flag.
    Hitch this wagon to the playoffs.

  • El Oilero

    Bakersfield is really close to LA. They will probably bring him back to at least practice with the Oilers so that Hitch can evaluate him and then decide from there.

  • HelpMeBabyJesus

    For goodness sakes, let the guy gain some confidence with the Condors and be the offensive stud there. Do not, I repeat, do not call him until his play demands a call up!

  • Glencontrolurstik

    I think he (they) should come up no doubt… Although, I’m really surprised at how fast the style of play has changed for the better under Hitch (4 shifts, he said). I think the AHL players should be tried out & have their chance, no doubt. But let’s let the “big team” gel first. Become familiar with the systems & the coach. Get the winning % up a bit to create a bit of a cushion. Then bring them up and try them with a team that’s already comfortable with the new style of play. Not a willy-nilly, seat of your pants game like it was under the previous leadership. We all admit that at times, that was just a gong show, where the players had no clue what they supposed to do. Hitch will form a team that has each others backs. I’d like the rookies to be a part of that culture. It just needs to come to fruition first. It won’t take long. I’d measure it by the win/loss column?

  • 99CupsofCoffey

    These articles are funny. History has shown that the Oilers brass making decisions solely for the sake of making decisions has been an utter failure. Give the kid some time.

  • toprightcorner

    Too soon. The last thing you want to do is call him up, have him struggle again and have to send him down again. The only thing tougher on his conidence than being sent down, is being sent down twice in the same season.

    With a coaching change, there will be an adjustment all the players will have to make, so that makes it even harder. Hitch is also not the type to treat JP with kid gloves.

    Let him play at least another 10 games to gather momentum in his game, by then the team will be playing smoother with the new Hitch system and it will be much easier for him to integrate back into the team.

    Calling him up too soon would make the entire process a waste. Leave him a bit longer and bring him back to play top 6.

      • Hemmercules

        I highly doubt JP is going to start lighting it up in the NHL just because they got a new coach yesterday. Let the kid have some familiarity playing high minutes with the same guys every night in the AHL. Hitch will have his hands full learning a whole team of guys already.

  • CMG30

    Boy this is a really tough call. Insert him in the lineup before he may be ready or leave him for a while where he’s finding sucess? I guess this is why I’m not a gm…

  • TKB2677

    Here is a question I have when it comes to Puljujarvi. It’s only been 3 games but he’s got 3 points in 3 games and based on what I have read, Puljujarvi, he’s been dominate. So the question I have is this.

    Is Puljujarvi’s dominance because he is just flat out playing better and doing the things he is supposed to do to play well OR is he dominating because he’s just bigger, faster and just better than most of the guys in the AHL. The AHL is a good league with lots of good players BUT skill wise Puljujarvi is just flat out way above a say Brad Malone who is a very good AHLer but a 12-13th NHLer at best. So if he is dominating just because he’s just more skilled then most guys but not doing all the things he should be, then don’t call him up yet.

    What I have noticed with JP this year is in the preseason, he dominated and we all got excited. But he dominated playing against inferior players and it wasn’t because he was doing the right things. Then as soon as every team iced real NHLers, he disappeared because he wasn’t better than everyone and he wasn’t doing the right things.

    • grumpyKoala

      The current roster have a few players that are here because they are better whitout doing ”the things they need to do to play well” Exemple Drai is way better than most nhler, bigger, faster, and he is not playing the ”right way”… just imagine if Hitch can change that. 3rd period Drai was gold yesterday, the first 2.. very good play followed by very bad ones. Jesse will be a top 6 at one point. Here or somewere else

  • MrBung

    The reason this PJ issue is still getting so much attention is because the NHL squad roster is poor and lacks guys that can score. The wings were gutted by Chia. No depth.

    • TKB2677

      I think its more because media guys like Nielson who are literally turning a blind eye to JP’s issues and spend hours a day telling every listener how the Oilers are screwing over JP. Unfortunately, WAY too many Oilers fans believe Nielson.

      It was the same with Yakupov. How many years did we have media and bloggers all telling us how terrible the Oilers were with Yak and how he was getting screwed over by the team all while ignoring just how lousy of a player he was. I have my doubts if the draft was done over knowing what we know, he would even be in the top 2 rounds. He’s not an NHL player and isn’t even a very good KHL player. Yet year after year, we heard how he was a top 6 forward getting screwed over. If you can’t go over to the KHL and dominate, you aren’t a top 6 NHLer.

      • Big Nuggets

        Thing with Yak is he looked like a good player that had to learn the NHL game. He actually had a good season with Krueger coaching. Eakins brought the team and all players on it to a new low. I think they might have purposely tanked that year for McDavid, brought in Eakins to get the job done. They knew Krueger wouldn’t go for it. The problem with tanking is when you put the players through that, coaching to lose, it has consequences. Just a theory. I’m surprised Yak never found a place in the NHL. He could still score goals, but couldn’t figure out everything else.

        • TKB2677

          Yak played on 2 other teams and couldn’t play even a 4th line role. Fans need to realize, he was not an NHLer and probably will go down as one of the biggest #1 overall busts of all time.

  • grumpyKoala

    I guess Hitch could give him a spot on the first line eventually but with mcd and drai combo I rather a speedy player. The question is more would even Drai fit Hitchcock mold, post game he give Drai credit for his hand giving his size but I can tell you he his not please with his game positioning. Pulu going up really depends on how hitch think he can be accountable in both zone

  • ed from edmonton

    Dusty has been on the “play JP” band wagon all year. Didn’t he write a piece about giving him first 20 games with McD no matter what? I hope whether JP returns to the NHL this year is determined primarily by his development in the AHL.

  • Consultant

    Give Puju at least a couple more weeks in the California sun, it takes more than five games to find your mojo. Let’s ride the new coach wave for as long as we can then when we need a boost think about calling the kid up. But do let him know the tentative plan and ask him to work on the things that will make him successful with the big club – one of which is working the left board side (right shot one timer) swinging to net front on the PP. They have lots of practice time down there. I know they are already using it for probably exactly this but my point I guess is let it be a five week “camp” not a two week camp… Then bring him up and put him on Nuge’s wing.

  • If Puljujarvi returns, the lineup should look something like this:
    Caggiula – McDavid – Draisaitl
    Spooner – Nuge – Puljujarvi
    Khaira – Marody – Chiasson
    Rattie – Brodziak – Kassian
    Lucic – P.Russell

    (Short leash on Spooner. Lucic needs to sit a game.)

    When Rieder returns from injury, then what? Marody and/or Russell sent back down?

    Caggiula – McDavid – Draisaitl
    Spooner – Nuge – Puljujarvi
    Rieder – Khaira – Chiasson
    Lucic – Brodziak – Kassian
    Rattie

  • Bills Bills

    Let him play in Bakersfield. Hitch can work with what he has and if he can get some buy in and start of a structure, it will be easier for JP to enter into the system that is working instead. Strong structure makes it easier for people to understand what the expectations are of them. It doesn’t matter if it is hockey or house building. When team members don’t know exactly what they are supposed to do, it creates inefficiency and confusion.

  • Mitchvar9412

    What would people think of the Oilers trying a few unproven wingers with McDavid and loading a second line? Something like:

    Spooner – McDavid – Rattie
    Nuge – Drai – Puljujarvi??

    Then mess around with the third line but keeping the
    Lucic- Brodziak – Kassian line together

    • grumpyKoala

      Lucic Brodziak Kassian was the third line.
      Hitch said Lucic should not care to much for point production, he should focus on being an impact player and see him as 3rd line. Marody played less than 5min, Rattie 8:30

      • Mitchvar9412

        Yeah label it how you will either third or fourth line it doesnt really matter the label. Its how they are deployed and the game plan they have. If that line is called the third line but they are still playing the dump and chance, then cycle game I’m all for it. Thats why I want that line to stay together and mix of the rest of the bottom six.

  • Vanoil

    Hell No!!!! leave Nuge alone. Let him anchor a third line, call it the fourth line until he discovers how to have success and then let that fourthline eat minutes from the other two. Assuming our current fourth-line worthy grinders eventually revert to their proper place.

  • kormega

    Multiple sources have told me a number of people higher up in the organization believe Puljujarvi should be seeing top six minutes on a regular basis.

    Exactly! God bless there are some conscious minds up in the organization.

  • MillHoodsHockey4Life

    Is it not possible to bring him up, let Hitch see what he’s working with and then if need be send him back to Bakersfield with points to work on, not just “be better”?