Coming into 2017-18, Jesse Puljujarvi appears ready to make a run for a full-time gig with the Edmonton Oilers this season.
Though Puljujarvi had a strong preseason and made the opening night roster for 2016-17, he couldn’t capitalize on his opportunity at the NHL level. He played 28 games with the Oilers, but only recorded a lone goal and eight points.
Due to low scoring totals and lack of overall chemistry at the NHL level, Puljujarvi was sent to play with the Oilers’ minor-league affiliate in Bakersfield. He needed to further adjust to Northern American hockey and ease into it at the AHL level, and it seemed to have a strong impact on the Finnish winger.
In 39 games with the Condors, Puljujarvi shined, posting 12 goals and 28 points. He was able to show off his speed and ability much more at the lower level, and he also stood out and made a huge impact. Not only that, he was able to adjust and take his time developing without a wealth of pressure on his shoulders.
Due to the fact that the Oilers lack depth on the right side, and want to rely on their youth to step up and fill the voids on their main roster, Puljujarvi appears ready to work for a spot on the Oilers roster. Not only that, he will likely make a run for the top six as well.
Cracking the NHL
Puljujarvi is a big, fast winger who can be a force on the offensive rush. He is able to keep up with players like McDavid and use his speed and skating ability to get past the opposition. His stickhandling and ability to take care of the puck go a long way, as he can make smart plays and jumpstart the offence. He is also accurate when it comes to shooting and passing, though he could take steps to improve his shot.
However, when it comes to the NHL level, Puljujarvi has to make a few adjustments to his play. First off, he needs to make his shot stronger, and work on his play at both ends of the rink. Puljujarvi plays a solid two-way game but needs to improve on defence.
At times, Puljujarvi would turn over the puck and have trouble keeping up with his opponents and handling the opposition. Not to mention, the 6-foot-4, 203-pound winger didn’t use his size to his advantage and didn’t serve as a physical force.
To make himself more of an asset at the NHL level, he will have to throw his weight around a bit more and avoid turnovers. In addition, Puljujarvi will need to showcase his skillset more; he plays well with and without the puck, and simply needs to improve in key areas.
Overall, Puljujarvi is a solid winger with tremendous upside and is bound to make a huge impact at the NHL level. It looks like he will get another chance at NHL ice time this season, and is more likely to keep his job this time around. Still, he will