He’s far from flashy, but Tomas Jurco is having a good start to the season with the Edmonton Oilers.
And it might be time to start to show him some love.
Signed this past offseason with a plethora of new faces in the Oilers bottom-six, Jurco has been a pleasant surprise in some limited showing.
Having only played just under 10 minutes a night, he’s got two assists in nine games and his even-strength point per hour rate (1.38) is spot on with his number from last year.
It’s early and the sample size is small, but he’s shown a good ability to drive play with a 50.8 CF% — 3.24% higher than that of the rest of his teammates. His goal rates, too, have been really high this year.
I don’t think he’s looked out of place in his time on the ice, either, and I think it begs to ask the question of why he hasn’t seen more ice-time. He’s been arguably one of, if not the best bottom-six guys the Oilers have had this year.
So why’s he seeing only a limited amount of time?
Today he slides in on a line with Sam Gagner and Markus Granlund, both guys who have shown an ability to produce in the NHL.
Head coach Dave Tippett said Jurco does bring some skill to his game.
“(Jurco) does bring a skill factor we need on that third line with Gagner, they have the ability to bring some skill into the powerplay unit or just the five-on-five game,” said head coach Dave Tippett Saturday. “He had a good training camp.
“He made some plays that really stood out to you, he earned the right to start the season (in the NHL) but his game has gone a little quiet.”
It’s a bit of a curious answer, given his relative lack of playing time to past seasons. In Edmonton, he’s averaging about two minutes less per game than in some of his other NHL stops.
I think he’s got the speed and smarts to play a more consistent role and Edmonton’s coaching staff should considering bumping his numbers up a bit.
Throughout his career, he’s shown he can contribute in a bottom-six role and even if he can pot 15 points for Edmonton there the rest of the way, you could count that as a win.
On Twitter: @zjlaing