Dear Edmonton Oilers, Why Are You the Way That You Are? Jesse Puljujarvi Edition

Edmonton Oilers: This article is a rant piece about Puljujarvi and his (lack of) usage, so buckle up, because I’m spewing vitriol at Todd McLellan and Co. so, without further ado:

Edmonton Oilers: So Jack Michaels tweeted out this yesterday detailing the Oilers line combos heading into game two against Boston.

Really? Like are you kidding me? Before I get into the logical and rational part of this discussion (rant), why in the name of the almighty hockey Gods is Jesse Puljujarvi on the fourth line? What does this kid have to do to get on McLellan’s good side? The kid can play, he’s played well in the past and should at least be an absolute fixture on the third line.

Putting your player out against soft competition is completely fine and acceptable when he’s still breaking into the league; However, when you take your marquee prospects and stick them on the fourth line because they don’t produce in one game, that’s just ridiculous.

Jesse Puljujarvi and Some Rational Ranting

The kid can play. I know I said that two paragraphs ago but if you watched any preseason hockey then you can understand my and many other fan’s frustrations. In the five preseason games, he played in he had four goals. One of them especially stood out to me as it was very similar to the way McDavid succeeds in attacking:

He had his head up the whole way, used his speed to catch defenders flat-footed, and made a simple yet effective move to beat the goaltender. That goal shows finesse, skill, and confidence. All of these characteristics are what make McDavid so dynamic, and it’s really exciting to see Jesse with some of that skill set. Here’s Another example of his skill and finesse:

He retrieves the puck as Draisatl passes it out to him but does not try to carry it to his stick. He makes a smart play to chip it over to himself through a defenders legs. Then, instead of forcing a quick pass to Khaira resulting in a turnover he controls the puck and finds a little open ice.

The result of this being that the two defenders become drawn to him leaving Khaira open ice so he can get behind the defense for a small breakaway that leads to a goal. All of that thought process in the span of 5 seconds. The. Kid. Can. Play.

Watching him get demoted over guys like Kassian and Reider, who, at this stage in their respective careers are bottom six forwards, is damning. It shows that coach Todd: A. Has no trust or faith in Puljujarvi, no matter how he performs, and B. Plays favorites and veterans ahead of more gifted players due to personal bias.

There is no way you can rationally decide that Reider, Kassian or Cagguila have more offensive upside in their game than Puljujarvi. None. Doing so proves that you are either utilizing players based on personal agenda or are just very incompetent.

Incompetent Oilers Coaching?

Yes, I said it, and I can prove it. See McLellan did a little interview before the Boston game on Thursday and said some odd things. When asked, after shuffling his bottom six around, who the so-called third and fourth lines were, his response was as such:

“When I look at those ‘blue’ lines — because they were wearing blue jerseys — I couldn’t tell you who our third and fourth line was. They’ll dictate that. – Todd McLellan.

Interesting that the head coach doesn’t know how his line combos work one game into the season, but wait! There’s more!

“the other day there wasn’t a real distinguished separation between the players who played there,” McLellan continued. “I don’t know if Strome moved down a line, if Khaira’s centering the fourth line, I can’t tell you that. They’ll dictate that.”

*link to the full interview here*

Okay, this is a bit of a fair comment and if this were over a stretch of games that would be fine but it’s ONE GAME! Much like the Edmonton media’s been doing since game 1, McLellan seems to be putting a lot of weight in game 1. Now with the media who are paid to pump out daily content, it’s understandable, they’re just doing their jobs, but to have the head coach that wound up over one game leaves me dumbfounded.


I don’t know how the teams bottom six is going to look this year, and neither does anyone else. Changes due to injury, lack of production, fatigue, etc., will happen. That’s just the nature of hockey, but one game into the season is not the time to whip out the blender. Furthermore, it is not acceptable to put your fourth overall pick in a situation where he will most likely end up playing fourth line minutes.

You know what worked exceptionally well in the one game they played together? The Khaira-Puljujarvi-Reider line, why not do that? Why not do things that work instead of throwing Cagguila and Kassian who are out of their depth in third line roles? They will get caved in possession and scoring against Boston. The David Backes-Anders Bjork-Danton Heinen third line the Bruins are currently running is better than either of the two lines McLellan is throwing out there.

I don’t know if that’s more of an indictment against the coach or the gm, but here we are. So, I’m prepping myself for another Oilers loss Thursday. Furthermore, I’m expecting another line combo change because that seems to be the best and only tool McLellan has in his toolkit.

Welcome to the 2018/19 Edmonton Oilers or as I will now be calling them “The Break-up Tour” because another year like last will likely mean a break up of their core and their front office, and heads will be rolling.