Edmonton Oilers player review and 2021-22 preview: Jesse Puljujarvi

Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
1 year ago
Welcome to the 2020-21 season review and 2021-22 season preview player-by-player! In this, and other articles, I’ll be, well, reviewing the Edmonton Oilers 2020-21 season and previewing the 2021-22 season. You can read about the analytics behind my analysis here.

Oh, Jesse.
What a season his 2019-20 campaign was. The 23-year-old returned to the NHL for a redemption tour and he blew the doors off.
He signed a two-year deal with an AAV of $1.175-million and it’s clearly paying off for the Oilers.
He found himself in the bottom-six, but it didn’t take long for him to work up the lineup. There, he found a home on the Oilers top line alongside Connor McDavid and a rotating cast on the left wing.
In 55 games, he scored 15 goals and 25 points — but his boxcars weren’t the only thing solid about his game. Dogged on the puck, he showed his ability to be a strong two-way player not only with strong forechecking in the offensive zone, but sound defensive play, too.
According to hockeyviz.com which breaks down isolated impacts, Puljujarvi provided even-strength offence at a six percent rate above league average and even-strength defence at an eight percent rate above league average. Simply put: his impacts on the ice were elite.
At 5×5 with him on the ice, the Oilers controlled 52.92 perent of the shot attempts, 52.5 perent of the goals and 55.75 percent o the expected goal share. Simply put: he was a stud.
We saw the type of hockey from Puljujarvi we all expected. Here, for those who don’t recall, is some of what the scouts had to say of his game entering the 2016 draft:
Unlike Laine, Puljujarvi is more of a playmaker and 200-foot player than a pure scorer. He’s not expected to have the same offensive impact Laine will at the NHL level, but there’s a two-way component to his game that scouts like … Puljujarvi will never shortchange his team in effort. But while he’s hugely competitive he’s far more than just a high-motor guy. “Sometimes people see his competitiveness and activity, they get caught looking at that and forget what a good player he is.” – The Hockey News
Puljujärvi is a big winger who combines size, skating and skill. A strong skater who can blast past the opposition in full speed. Able to use his size, reach and stickhandling skills to retain the puck in speed. A smart player at both ends of the ice, both on and off the puck. Great work ethic and positive attitude. More of a playmaker than a scorer and could improve his shooting skills. Doesn’t shy away from physical play, but could use his size more to his benefit.
A truly dominant two-way force that consistently demonstrates elite hockey sense, proactive defensive awareness, and a full array of offensive tools. Comparable to Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars, Puljujärvi owns a dangerously accurate shot, as well as exceptional playmaking ability that pairs up quite nicely with his superb vision and enthusiasm. Has the ability to absolutely dominate by using his size and speed to keep possession of the puck until he determines it to be the right time for the rubber to hit the back of the net. Everything that he does, he does well, to the fullest of his ability; there are no empty holes in this electrifying and hard-nosed forward’s game. – Elite Prospects
Just two exampes, but that sounds alot like what Puljujarvi has brought to the table in his return. He’s going to be really good for a long time, and that’s not going to change this year.
I think he could be a 30 goal, 30 assist type of player for the Oilers as soon as this year. Even in the preseason, he was shooting 2.8 times a game, an uptick from the 2.1 he shot last year.  He’s going to be fun to watch this season.

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 zach@oilersnation.com.

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