The Edmonton Oilers took Monday off. The players, that is.
But where the coaches readied for a visit from Minnesota on Tuesday, management wrestled with the fates of three players: A couple of kids and a veteran who appears to burning through yet another organization.
Let’s take on each case, and see if we can find some conclusions:
The debate inside the Oilers organization right now is, with the Oilers on a 3-0 run with Puljujarvi in the press box as a healthy scratch, is it time for the 20-year-old right-winger to spend some time on the farm? They’ve officially reached a tipping point with this No. 4-overall draft pick, with the surging Oilers at a juncture where they can not afford a roster spot to a player who can’t help right now.
Puljujarvi’s uptake on how to play the NHL game has been slow, and the place to play catchup on that is at AHL Bakersfield. After parts of three seasons in the NHL however, that would mark a measure of failure for both the player and the team that drafted him — especially in a 2016 draft where Matthew Tkachuk, Mikhail Sergachev and Charlie McAvoy were there for the taking.
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Finnish correspondent Tommi Seppala recently talked to Puljujarvi for a piece in their native language. Seppala wrote about a player for whom points are the cherry on top of the sundae; that Puljujarvi needs to be better without the puck, learn to use his size, and play a trustworthy, professional game. Do all of those things, and the points will come.
I couldn’t agree more. The Oilers need to get out of the business of teaching players how to be pros at the NHL level. Better to have a player become overripe in Bakersfield, than playing in Edmonton before he is NHL-ready.
Seppala also asked Puljujarvi’s agent Markus Lehto on Monday if he’d received news that Puljujarvi was AHL bound. As of Monday, he had not.