Jesse Puljujarvi is developing into a solid NHL player
By Neil Becker
Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi has suddenly emerged into an impactful highly skilled NHL forward.
Drafted fourth overall by Edmonton in the 2016 draft, there was lots of excitement about the vast potential of this 6 -foot -4 201 pound Finnish right winger who was looked upon by scouts as a top European prospect.
Prior to being drafted Puljujarvi dominated at the 2016 World Junior Championships where playing for Finland he scored 5 goals and 17 points in seven tournament games in capturing gold. In what was a year to remember, Puljujarvi was eventually selected as the Best Forward and MVP of the tournament. Later on that same year, he also represented Finland at the 2016 World U18 Championship where he came away with another gold medal.
During his first three years, Puljujarvi went back and forth in playing with the Oilers and their AHL affiliate the Bakersfield Condors.
As an 18 year-old rookie, Puljujarvi scored 1 goal and 8 points in 28 games with the Oilers before speding the remainder of the 2016/2017 season with Bakersfield. Playing on the farm Puljujarvi showed promise that season as he he produced 12 goals and 28 points in 39 games.
In his sophomore season, this hulking forward’s production slighly improved as he talied 12 goals and 20 points in 65 games with the Oilers along with 1 goal and 5 points in 10 games with the Condors. In January 2018, he had his biggest NHL moment when he was named first star after scoring a goal and totaling 3 points in a win against the Vancouver Canucks.
The following year, Puljujarvi finished the 2018-2019 campaign with only 4 goals and 9 points in 46 games with the Oilers. He also played 4 games in Bakersfield where he produced 2 goals and 4 points. These numbers had Edmonton hockey fans frustrated as talk quickly began turning to the idea that Puljujarvi might end up being a first round bust.
Puljujarvi would hold out from the Oilers during the 2019-2020 season, as he returned to playing for Oulun Karpat. On October 7, 2020, he returned to Edmonton and signed a two-year $2.35 million- dollar contract in deciding to give the NHL another go.
Perhaps due to being a little older, Puljujarvi returned as a 22 year-old and received lots of praise from teammates and coach Dave Tippett after the COVID shortened season which saw him score 15 goals and 25 points in 55 games.
“Ever since the start of camp last year he’s started building himself to be a good NHL player and his confidence continues to grow and his game continues to grow,” Tippett said to NBC Sports. “He’s playing in a lot of situations, playing with those big guys and puts a lot of work in the game. He can shoot the puck well, as you’ve seen. His skill set is really strong.”
Another big asset to Puljujarvi’s game is his size and strength. Playing on a line with captain Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, Puljujarvi’s job is to park himself in front of the goalie and provide a screen. This along with tipping pucks is something he has done extremely well.
In making a statement, this big Finn scored four pre-season goals and has started this season with four points in the first two games.
No question that at 23 years of age, Puljujarvi is just going to get better and better which is great news for Oilers fans.