The Edmonton Oilers assigned forward Jesse Puljujarvi to the Bakersfield Condors and placed Mark Fayne on waivers Sunday.
Puljujarvi was one of Edmonton’s prospects expected to make the jump to the NHL this season. He did get to play 28 games with Edmonton last year but was sent down to the Bakersfield Condors after posting just a goal and eight points at the NHL level. With the Condors, he got more time to adjust to the North American game and put up strong totals with 12 goals and 28 points in 39 games.
However, he did not stand out that much in the preseason. He had just two goals and three points through five games, all of which came in one game against the Winnipeg Jets.
Reasoning for Reassignment
The fourth-overall pick has plenty of potential and upside, but looking at his play, he needs more fine-tuning before making the full-time jump. First off, the speed and offensive ability are there. He has a great shot and he is able to make smart passes and help create scoring chances. But in his defensive play, there is still work to be done.
First off, Puljujarvi is a 6-foot-4, 211-pound winger, and needs to better use his size to his advantage. While he had three hits in the preseason, he needs to throw his weight around a bit more and not be afraid to battle for the puck in the corners. Additionally, he needs to take better care of the puck. He had a few giveaways and turnovers during the Oilers’ exhibition games, so he will need to work on that in the AHL.
Not only that, with the Condors, he will get the top-six minutes he deserves, which will lead to better production and more confidence. The 19-year-old is still young and has plenty to work on, and he is still young, so there is no reason for the Oilers to rush him this season.
As for the Oilers, they have Kailer Yamamoto to take on a big role at right wing, and because of his effort and consistency on a game-by-game basis, he is showing that he has time to prove his NHL worth. Additionally, the Oilers have enough depth in young players like Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev, Jujhar Khaira and Iiro Pakarinen, as well as more seasoned wingers like Zack Kassian and even potentially Ryan Strome. Therefore, they can take on more ice time while Puljujarvi gets the time he needs to develop.
The Oilers seem to have enough depth on the blue line to start the year, and it looks as if Yohann Auvitu will take on the role of the seventh defenceman as Andrej Sekera recovers. Eric Gryba has also proven his worth to fill in on the d-corps, leaving Fayne as the odd-man out.
In an injury-riddled year, the 30-year-old winger suited up for just four games with the Oilers, putting up two assists. He did spend a majority of his year at the minor league level with the Condors, racking up three goals, 17 points and a plus-9 rating in 39 games.
Given his hefty annual salary that commands over $3 million per season, as well as his injury problems and inconsistent play, it is not surprising to see him on waivers for the purpose of reassignment. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of this year, and keeping him in the AHL would help Edmonton save cap space.