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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Off the Top of My Head

Trade Pool Party? Yes? No? Maybe so? I came across an item Friday contemplating that question. Should Edmonton Oilers’ GM Ken Holland consider trading Jesse Puljujarvi now because his value is relatively high? Channeling Dustin Nielson and Baggedmilk, I said, pardon?Snap. Lose it.

That item is here. An excerpt:

If Holland believes Puljujarvi is capable of more and therefore sees him as a part of the team’s future, he should hang up on anyone calling about a trade, but if the player we saw last year is peak Puljujarvi, there will never be a better time to sell. Opposing GMs will be attracted to his size, skating, and the scoring potential he demonstrated at lower levels in other leagues.

It goes without saying anybody not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl can be traded by Holland. Likewise, that looking for ways to improve any given position or bolster depth always makes sense. That said, I’m guessing what we saw from the big Finn last season is far from “peak Puljujarvi” and that Holland does, indeed, believes he’s capable of more. Don’t you?

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Puljujarvi, 23, is just getting started. There’s still room for improvement. That much we know, so if I’m Holland I want a longer look to see what Puljujarvi’s ceiling actually is before I even contemplate the possibility of moving him. Can he score 25 or 30 goals alongside McDavid? If he can, that’s a player you can win with now, which is Holland’s mandate.

Considering the drama and disappointment that marked his first three seasons, Puljujarvi exceeded every reasonable expectation after returning from Karpat. Numbers aside, he came out of it looking more like a player than I expected. Talking to coach Dave Tippett last week it’s obvious he loved what he saw. No question in my mind Tippett thinks Puljujarvi is capable of more. I’m willing to bet most of you do too.

Trade Puljujarvi now? No chance. None. Put me firmly in the “hang up” the phone contingent.

WAITING ON DALLAS

 

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In the time flies department, it’s been eight seasons since GM Craig MacTavish was so impressed with Dallas Eakins, and the many glowing reviews about his time with the Toronto Marlies in the AHL, he fired incumbent bench boss Ralph Krueger via Skype and gave Eakins the job for 2013-14. The rest we know.

Eakins, now 54, never came close to living up to the hype heaped upon him by some Hogtown media folks during his time with the Oilers. Remember the swarm defence? The chop wood, carry water slogan? Eakinshas talked about learning from his days here, but so far the results haven’t been much better in Anaheim as he goes into his third season with the rebuilding Ducks.

Through 240 games as the head coach in Edmonton and Anaheim, Eakins is 82-126-32 for a points-percentage of .408. Eakinswent 36-63-14 (.381) with the Oilers before getting fired. He got his second chance in Anaheim after four seasons with their AHL farm team in San Diego. In 127 games with the Ducks Eakins is 46-63-18 for .433. It looks like he’s in for another long season.

WHILE I’M AT IT

May 8, 2021; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point of the season on a goal by forward Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

It’s no surprise McDavid, who posted a career-best 1.88 PPG playing against only the North Division last season, tops the Sporting News annual ranking of the Top 250 fantasy players for 2021-22. McDavid, after all, had 105 points in the shortened season to finish 21 points ahead of Draisaitl, who, unsurprisingly, is rated second in the SN poll.

McDavid and Draisaitl have some company, though, as two other Oilers are ranked in the top-40 – keep in mind, these are fantasy pool rankings based on more than goals-assists-points. Darnell Nurse comes in at No. 33 on the list and Tyson Barrie, who led NHL defencemen in scoring last season, is rated No. 40.

AND . . .

  • You can file this under the “new phonebooks are here” category if you like, but the ice went back into RogersPlace this past week. The Oilers open the pre-season in Calgary on September 26 then host the Seattle Kraken Sept. 28, exactly 30 days from today.