Now is the time for me to put my glasses a bit further down my nose, take out my best red pen and grade each individual Oiler on their season. I debated on the order of how I wanted to do these; alphabetically, point production, desire to make me throw things at my tv... I decided on descending jersey numbers so looks like Jesse Puljujarvi is up first.
GRADE - C
This year was supposed to be Puljujarvi's breakout campaign. Many expected him to start the year with RNH or McDavid... instead he started the season in the minors and Kailer Yamamoto started on McDavid's wing. It didn't take too long however for Puljujarvi to make his way back to the NHL, his boxcars: 65GP 12-8-20.
Usage is the biggest sticking point for those who defend Puljujarvi. Puljujarvi averaged 13:22 minutes of ice time a game. That number puts him 12th in ice time among all Oiler forwards this year. Players that averaged more minutes than Puljujarvi include Lucic (15:57), Aberg (14:38), Cammalleri (14:06), and Yamamoto (15:09).
One area Puljujarvi did very well in was his 5 on 5 scoring. He was 5th on the team in even strength goals with 10. While his overall scoring was inconsistent throughout the year that is a very promising number. The powerplay was a different story.
The powerplay was a baffling example of usage. Puljujarvi is one of the few Oiler forwards who has demonstrated his ability to one-time the puck yet his average PP ice time was a measly 44 seconds; 14th among all forwards. Despite this he finished tied for 5th in PP goals with 2. Lucic, Letestu, and Caggiula were all 4th each with 3 goals. Their ice time on the PP were all significantly higher than Puljujarvi's.
All of these reasons make it difficult to judge #98 as a player. Is he a player who has been misused by his coach? Or is he a struggling young player who hasn't found his game yet? I believe there is some truth to both of these and some areas we should expect him to improve.
What he needs to keep doing
Growing into a volume shooter as well as his success at even strength.
What he needs to stop doing
Inconsistency is always the issue with young players, especially with European players. Having more consistent linemates will help this.
The best thing Jesse can hope for next season
Either McLellan is fired or his coach realizes maybe he is a better top 6 option than Caggiula.
Puljujarvi is a part of the McDavid core and there is plenty of time for him to evolve into the prolific right winger the team hoped he would be when they drafted him. The right side of the Oilers remains a weak spot and the opportunity to grab those minutes should be Jesse's to take.
Thanks for reading!
TLDR - Puljujarvi gets a C. EV scoring was good and PP scoring would be better if he got the minutes.