A deep dive into Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi after he sets career high in points
Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing9 months ago
Jesse Puljujarvi has set a new career-high in points.
It came Friday night against the New York Islanders when the Finnish forward scored on the powerplay.
The goal came with just over halfway left in the frame, and was scored seconds after the puck was dropped in the offensive zone. It took a few bounces right away before traveling to the slot.
That’s where Puljujarvi dove to, batting the puck past Isles goaltender Ilya Sorokin to give Edmonton a 3-1 lead — a score they held onto.
For Puljujarvi, the goal gave him his 26th point of the season in his 43rd game setting a new career high. He previous career-high came last season, when in 55 games he scored 15 goals and 25 points.
In the first 28 games of this year, he was red hot. 10 goals. 23 points. Multi-point nights. Riding high alongside Connor McDavid.
In the 14 games since heading into last night’s game, he’s been cold as ice — on the boxscore, that is. No goals. Two points.
But his play away from the puck is what has kept him an effective player. According to hockeyviz.com, at even-strength Puljujarvi contributes offense at a six percent rate above league average and defense at a seven percent rate above league average. This is elite production.
His underlying numbers have been out of this world, too. Here are some key stats and how it ranks amongst Oilers forwards and against the league among 53 forwards who have played 618+ 5×5 minutes.
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What can we ascertain from all of this? Well, it’s clear that Puljujarvi is an elite driver of play. He generates shot attempts at one of the highest rates in the league, and limits them in equally high fashion. This in its own right is very significant for any player.
When you look at his goals, he’s generating them and defending them at an average rate. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. His expected goal rates, however, improve significantly. That suggests to me that he and those around him aren’t finishing at as high of a rate as they could be.
There’s been a lot of talk about Puljujarvi’s game this year. Many, including myself, were very high on him at the start of the year, but more and more recently I’ve seen suggestions he hasn’t been an effective player since he hasn’t been scoring.
The truth is, however, is that he doesn’t need to score points to be an incredibly effective NHL player. We all know the talent that he has, but Puljujarvi’s game has grown beyond that of somebody who just needs to produce to stay relevant.
This is a good problem to have for the Edmonton Oilers and while he is an RFA at the end of the year, the team needs to do whatever it takes to keep him around for the long run. He’s finally developed into the player we all thought he could be.
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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