It’s official, fans and bloggers have got what they’ve been asking for.
After many healthy scratches, and limited-minute games, the Oilers have assigned their two best forward prospects down to the AHL to play for the Condors.
In the case of Kailer Yamamoto, I am fine with this move. He was given plenty of ice time on the top two lines, and struggled to put up many points. He still has all the potential he had a few months ago, it just looks as though he’ll need to wait a bit. I’d personally like to see him working on carrying the puck more, and less passing it within two seconds of having the puck.
When it comes to Jesse Puljujarvi, however, I think this is isn’t a great idea. I have no doubt he’ll do great down there — especially now that the Condors have real talent — but at the same time, I wonder what the point of this is.
The reason you would send down a player like this is to work on specific things to one day make him a top-6 forward. Here’s the problem — He already is. He’s proven last year that when playing with Connor McDavid. His rates and numbers not only go up more than Leon Draisaitl’s ever have, but they actually improve McDavid’s numbers too. Is 251 minutes enough sample size? Maybe, maybe not, but what I can tell you is that having a player playing lower in the lineup than other players with worse rates is a massive inefficiency. There’s almost enough to make the claim that Puljujarvi would be better on Connor’s wing than the 77-point Draisaitl ever was.
So what I suspect will happen, is Puljujarvi is going to go put up points in the AHL, get recalled within a month, get the opportunities he should have already had, continue doing what he’s always done, and the Oilers touting development, and AHL success despite opportunity being the only real difference.
Either way, I don’t suspect he’ll be down there very long, but he’ll get to enjoy the California weather. In the mean time, the Oilers have made their NHL roster worse just to satisfy inept coaches mismanaging roster deployment.