Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has had a tough time adapting to the NHL, since being drafted fourth overall in 2016, however last season he had a strong end to the season alongside Connor McDavid.
With that being said, he has had a strong preseason and first two games alongside McDavid giving the indications that Puljujarvi is finally ready to breakout with the Oilers.
Originally, McDavid and Puljujarvi started training camp alongside Zach Hyman, however, the team decided to reunite possibly the best duo in hockey which includes McDavid and fellow superstar Leon Draisaitl.
While playing with the two superstars, the Finnish forward hasn’t looked out of place at all, being tied with Draisaitl for second in scoring with four points in two games. While it is clear that Puljujarvi is benefitting from playing with the dynamic duo, he is also making them a better line.
The thing is that Draisaitl and McDavid haven’t had a consistent power forward presence of the caliber Puljujarvi brings. Yes, they’ve had guys like Milan Lucic and Patrick Maroon, however, these guys couldn’t always keep up to the superstars, whereas Puljujarvi is able to provide speed. Therefore, it allows them to set up around the net while the 23-year old Puljujarvi skates into the corners and fights for the puck before creating an offensive chance.
How Jesse Puljujarvi Will Breakout
The Oilers have been waiting a while for Puljujarvi to finally breakout and he finally seems poised to do it. It’s pretty obvious, the two points/ game pace won’t continue, however with the chemistry that he is showing with McDavid and Draisaitl he could end up with around 0.8 PPG rate or a bit better. This would put Puljujarvi in the 65-70 point range over an 82 game which may be a stretch on paper but with the way he’s been playing with his linemates it is very possible.
What he will need to do to help him continue on a breakout path is to provide a good presence in all zones of the rink. While Draisaitl and McDavid are capable of playing at both ends, it is more important that they focus on their offensive game to help the team. By playing hard in the corners it allows the two stars to get into position and move around for a better offensive chance.
In terms of offense, Puljujarvi should drive the net when his teammates bring the puck up ice to get their rebounds. While he should skate towards the net to pick up McDavid and Draisaitl rebounds, Puljujarvi has a great shot as seen here on his goal Saturday night against the Calgary Flames.
While watching this play, you can see how Puljujarvi gets the puck from the corner which starts the play, before getting the pass from Edmonton Oilers defenseman Cody Ceci which leads him to score using his blistering shot. He also used his speed to beat the defender towards the net which is something that all power forwards need to do to be successful at the NHL level.
Expectations for Puljujarvi Going Forward
Puljujarvi is expected to play a big role this season, providing support to the team’s superstars. If he continues to do so, he will not only help his line but the Oilers as a whole as they’ve been looking for a player of Puljujarvi’s skillset to pair with McDavid for a long time.
Seeing Puljujarvi alongside McDavid can even take the superstar’s game to even another level as the Finnish forward gives him more room to make plays. With that, it helps the Oilers as a whole by giving them a better first line which arguably can be seen as the best line in hockey.
As mentioned earlier, Puljujarvi can easily get 65-70 points playing alongside McDavid and Draisaitl for much of the season. He had decent expectations entering the season but with the way he has been playing lately his expectations for the rest of the season has gotten higher. If you are looking for a nice sleeper pick in your fantasy leagues, he is a great option. Expect big things from Puljujarvi going forward.