In a move that probably should have been done a month ago, the Edmonton Oilers have sent Jesse Puljujarvi to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
In 28 games this season, Puljujarvi has one goal and eight points. He’s averaged 11:15 of ice time per game, but his minutes have been slowly decreasing since the beginning of the season, which led to his 3:27 of ice time last Thursday versus the Boston Bruins and a healthy scratch Saturday in New Jersey.
Puljujarvi, the No. 4 overall pick in last June’s draft, will get plenty of minutes with the Condors, something Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli hinted at last month. It could also help him find his offensive touch after having not scored since opening night (Oct. 12).
The Oilers have already burned a year of Puljujarvi’s entry-level deal, making him eligible for restricted free agency after the 2017-18 season. Also, by keeping him beyond the team’s 40th game this season that means he’s now a year closer to unrestricted free agency. This move is the opposite of what the Oilers did with Leon Draisaitl two years ago, sending him back to junior just after Game 39 of the 2014-15 season.
And in the cases of both Draisaitl and Puljujarvi, the Oilers should have probably released them for their country’s World Junior Championship rosters. The Germans ended up winless in the 2015 tournament, which meant relegation, while the defending champion Finns survived the relegation round with a pair of wins over Latvia earlier this month.
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