Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
98 Days Until The Season Begins
By Zach Laing7 months ago
Throughout the summer and into the fall, we’ll be counting down the days until the Edmonton Oilers begin their 2023-24 season with a daily trip down memory lane.
There are 98 days to go, so let’s continue the countdown with Jesse Puljujarvi — the only Edmonton Oiler to ever wear a number between Wayne Gretzky and Connor McDavid.
Edmonton Journal clipping from June 25, 2016.
Jesse Puljuarvi’s time in Edmonton has come and gone and is a tale in poor asset management. Puljuarvi came to Edmonton right out of the draft and was thrust right into the frantic Northern Alberta market.
It was clear right off the jump that Puljujarvi was in over his head and him splitting time between the Oilers and the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. He scored just one goal and eight points in 28 NHL games, but filled the net 12 times in 28 games tacking on another 16 points.
He started to show in his second year, 2017-18, managing 12 goals and 20 points in 65 games, but the wheels fell apart after his third season and his season ended early when he was forced to undergo double hip surgery. Puljujarvi left the Oilers the following year returning to play hockey in Finland and it was clear the two sides were nowhere near being on the same page.
Puljujarvi lit it up with Karpat in 2019-20 scoring 24 goals and 53 points in 56 games that year, and come 2020-21, with Ken Holland at the helm, the Finnish forward returned to Alberta. He played in 55 games that season scoring 15 goals and 25 points, but really found his stride in 2021-22 with 14 goals and 36 points in 65 games.
Those two years, however, would mark his most productive in the NHL. Despite consistently pushing play in the right direction, outscoring his opponents and being a disruptor on the ice, the offence wasn’t coming for him and Puljujarvi ended up a cap casualty being sent to the Carolina Hurricanes.
More questions than answers lie in Puljujarvi’s wake, and the fact that he was forced to undergo a second double hip surgery after his stint with the ‘Canes is concerning at best, and extremely concerning at worst. Could the Oilers have been forcing Puljujarvi to play through serious issues all these years? Could that be a reason he never hit his potential as the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft?
What’s clear now is that Puljujarvi should never have joined the Oilers as a rookie, and could’ve used — at the very least — another year or two developing in Finland, and in the Oilers’ farm system.
How many days are left until the Edmonton Oilers start the 2023-24 season? 98!
Can you guess who will be featured in tomorrow’s countdown?
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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