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.
Don't be surprised if Jesse Puljujarvi rejoins the Oilers by the time Edmonton hosts Dallas next Tuesday
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) November 21, 2018
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?
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.
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?