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Is Jesse Puljujarvi the latest in a long line of Oilers’ winger busts?

TORONTO, ON — It’s difficult to think about the Edmonton Oilers without your mind circling around first round draft choices. There has been a long history of failed future superstars coming through the Oilers’ pipeline. In 2015-16, Connor McDavid proved he wasn’t quite ready for the NHL at 18 years of age. He had to take 3 months rest in the middle of the season to recover from the labours of facing real competition. Taylor Hall proved time and time again to be a complete defensive liability and incapable of gelling with his teammates. Nail Yakupov was an obvious bust from Day 1. Jordan Eberle, the most recently departed, couldn’t keep up with the Oilers’ new winning culture, having been so used to playing for an awful team. And now, Leon Draisatl’s greed is going to cripple the franchise, having the gall to demand $19M per year on a 10 year deal. The CBA only allows for $14M per year, and a maximum of 8 years. What kind of rookie would demand an illegal contract? Certainly not one you can win with.

This brings us to the most recent “elite talent” to try to crack the Oilers’ roster: Jesse Puljujarvi. Drafted 4th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, he fell considerably from 2nd overall to 4th. It’s easy to imagine how far he’d have fallen if the Oilers hadn’t taken a flyer on him.

During the 2016-17 season, the Oilers made the questionable decision to test Puljujarvi at the NHL level. It only took the Oilers 4 months to realize he just didn’t have what it takes to make it in the big leagues. Puljujarvi was sentenced to his life in Bakersfield in early January.

It’s no wonder that Oilers fans — quite possibly the smartest fan base in the NHL — have moved to acceptance that Puljujarvi is not a part of their future. I spoke with long time Oilers fan Trent Rigman, an oil rig worker in Edmonton for the last 23 years. He said of Puljujarvi, “who even is that?” His dedication to moving on from the failed prospect is admirable.

At the time of Puljujarvi’s demotion, Oilers’ head coach Todd McLellan said, “The work ethic just isn’t there. There’s a winning culture here in Edmonton now, and Jesse just doesn’t have the dedication to be a part of it. Honestly, he’s not even that good.” It appears as long as the Oilers keep selecting skilled wingers, they’ll keep finding disappointment.

And yet, in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Oilers went down the same path to ruin in drafting Kailer Yamamoto, who is not only the same height as Miniature St. Louis, but also scored almost 100 points in one WHL season. How do the Oilers expect to win if they can’t find stay at home wingers to support Connor McDavid’s offensive superstardom?

With the help of Milan Lucic, Kris Russell, and Adam Larsson, the Oilers are still in good standing. But it’s not too late to start bringing in more of the same hard-working core cast, instead of these skilled winger cast-offs. I’ll be looking forward to seeing the Oilers bring some toughness in at the next NHL draft. Until then, let’s hope Puljujarvi’s Condors can at least vie for the Calder Cup as AHL champions.

    • LAKID

      Jesse @ 18years old last season needed to aclimitize to North America, English , smaller ice surface as well as come off a knee injury. I think he may just stick with the big club this year and if not another year in the AHL never hurt a young prospect. The Oilers don’t need nor should they rush young prospects. Jesse is far from a bust and this article is assinine and bogus.

      • LAKID

        Whoever wrote should get his facts straight and his articles should be reviewed before they are allowed to be posted. Jesse did not fall from 2nd to fourth, 3rd to 4th maybe. 1st and 2nd was between Laine and Matthews and that may still be up for debate who is better. Connor Macdavid had a broken clavicle came back early and was robbed of the rookie of the by 29 year old Russian that previously played in the KHL! Get your facts straight goof.

        • Kwusee

          I don’t think you got the joke, or really got it and kept going,. Saying get your facts straight and calling Panarin a 29 year old rookie is funny. Also Laine wasn’t jockeying with Matthews out of the gate, he was projected for late first early second to start the year, up until the world juniors Puiljarvi was highly considered number 2 overall with Laine possibly overtaking him.

        • Bawcos

          Agreed. Love to also see the McLellan interview that had him throw a top prospect under the bus (sounds made up). Also were Eberle and Hall so bad? They traded for cost control and to iprove their D. Sorry to Say but McDavid at 18 was ahead of Matthews at 19.

      • Ryan68

        Agreed. When did McLellan ever say that. No coach would say that about a young player. This article smacks of wishful thinking and Oiler bashing. He probably thinks that McDavid still wants out to go play for the Leafs. I doubt he ever spoke with anyone in Edmonton. If this were a newspaper article they’d be printing the retraction tomorrow.

    • AlexTheOilersFan

      Yeah to heal a broken clavicle. Not because “he consent handle real competition”. This guy is clueless, how he is able to print anything on this site is beyond me. Oh and before that “3 months rest”, McDavid was lighting up the NHL hanging 12pts in 13 games played

  • AlexTheOilersFan

    What a joke this article is. This is coming from a Leafs centric blog, and this is probably a guy who only sees Edmonton play when they play Toronto. Second, I HIGHLY doub McLellan would speak that negatively about Puljujarvi to the media. Yes, McLellan is honest, but he would NEVER say that publicly about a guy. If Jesse needed to improve his game, Todd would’ve said that. Saying “he’s not really that good” is just ridiculous. And another thing, PULJUJARVI HASNT EVEN PLAYED A FULL SEASON IN THE NHL YET!

    Joke of an article and disgraceful one at that

    • LAKID

      Tkachuck will show his true colors in his second year (Black and Blue). The league won’t put up with a slew footing cheap shot artist that ducks and hides. I hope his skating lesson are going well this off season beacause he will need some speed to away.

  • CMpuck

    I love the crying about ‘look at the Leafs drafting’… Leafs arguably drafted the best of any team over the last ten years.

    Who has blown more high picks than Edmonton? If it’s not a gimme like McDavid that a child could draft the Oil have screwed it up.

    • Travis

      “Leafs arguably drafted the best of any team over the last ten years.” Yeah, no. If this were true, why does everyone consistently rate the prospect pools of teams like the Jets and Coyotes so much higher than the Leafs? Leafs have done well in the last 3 years or so (and one of those was due to winning the lottery), but beyond that? Not so much.

  • FlareKnight

    I thought the article was being a bit blunt with the joking tone but….guess not. Here’s hoping most of the replies are going for comedic value and are utterly laced with sarcasm.

    That was good for a laugh though.

    • IUsedToBleedOilBlueButIBledOut

      Yes, it’s called Satire. Unfortunately that word and it’s true definition isn’t in everyone’s dictionary/repertoire. I’m an Oiler fan and I loved this article! Anyone who follows the oilers or knows anything about them and their team can see that the author has deliberately gotten facts wrong (or rather taken small truths and made them into satirical drama). 10 years of failure has made some fans oversensitive to criticism (real or imagined). Oiler fans, the decade of darkness is over. Be proud and confidant in your team. If an article like this was written 2-3 years ago it would have been mostly true! We are a good team and will be for a long time, being good will attract attention like this article, just enjoy it for what it is and realize that if we WEREN’T good, no one would bother writing about the team in this way at all!

      • magesticRAGE

        I’m happy for you guys, like really. Ineptitude needed to be cut off from the head, and it started with the Oil getting ownership with a brain and vision. Other than the backend, you guys are set.

  • Styxx

    Merriam-Webster Dictionary: Definition of Satire
    1 a literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn
    2 trenchant wit, irony, or sarcasm used to expose and discredit vice or folly

    This article was neither literary nor witty. The writer purposefully intended to insult and offend using fabricated and slanderous statements to provoke an angry response. Then, in order to duck responsibility and retain a shard of journalistic integrity he hides by labelling his article as humour. Readers are then further bullied by the schoolyard gang to accept his childish irresponsible work else they be branded and faulted for being “humourless”.

    Nice try Hobart…Nation’s Network should be ashamed for allowing you to defile their name with your garbage. I would immediately suspend you, require prior approval before posting, and punt you if you transgress a second time. As a reader if I continue to see such drivel my choice will be to vote by not visiting the sites again and ensure I subject the network to ridicule and scorn…but in a humourous manner of course.

  • 2centz

    Sounds like Toronto is still bitter about McDavid. Connor was more than ready at 18,clearly evident by the video of his injury,it was the rest of the league that wasn’t ready for an 18yr old McDavid. As far as Jesse goes,I view it as playing with house money. If McDavid plays his entire rookie season,the Oilers wouldn’t have been in a position to draft him anyway. So if he turns out,beauty. If not,it was no more of a gamble,than if they were picking at 10 or 12. Plus the Oilers are arguably one of the tougher teams in the league,physically. Who else has as much functional toughness as the Oilers do? No wonder kids from the Toronto area,don’t want to play for the Leafs. They have to deal with a sub par media,that thinks they know everything about everything.