32 Teams In 32 Days: Edmonton Oilers
They not only have the two best offensive players in the league, but also one of the most underappreciated players
In today’s 32 Teams outlook we dig into the Edmonton Oilers and one of the league’s most underappreciated players.
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As of this writing the Edmonton Oilers have managed to avoid what could have been an embarrassing offseason mistake.
When the 2021-22 season came to an end it seemed to be a foregone conclusion the team was going to trade forward Jesse Puljujarvi for a laughably small return. All of the ingredients for a trade were there.
Puljujarvi has a target on his back for criticism in the Edmonton media, he has hinted at wanting a change of scenery and a fresh start somewhere else, and quite frankly, it all just seems like the type of misguided move the Oilers would make.
Trading Puljujarvi, especially at this point in his career, would be a potentially disastrous move because he is currently one of the most underappreciated players in the NHL and still has even more potential he has yet to reach.
On the surface, it is easy to see why Puljujarvi faces criticism and has sky-high expectations following him around. He was a No. 4 overall pick in the draft, a position that automatically brings pressure. He has also spent considerable time in his career playing alongside Connor McDavid and/or Leon Draisaitl, the two most dominant offensive players in the league. When you get picked in that spot and play alongside talent like that there is going to be an expectation for you to score a lot of goals and rack up a lot of points.
Puljujarvi, despite always creating chances and having the puck on his stick in dangerous areas, has not yet done that. As of this moment, he is probably a 20-goal, 50-point player over 82 games, which is a perfectly fine level of production for a winger that plays on your top two lines, especially at what will be a very reasonable salary cap number of $3 million for the 2022-23 season.
But because he was a top-five pick and gets to play next to the best player in the world on a regular basis he is seen as a problem in Edmonton because he *should* be scoring more, based on some arbitrary level of expectation.
Not every top-five pick becomes an immediate star. Not every important player is going to score 35 goals.
So let’s look at why players like Puljujarvi, despite their lack of All-Star scoring, are still extremely important players for their teams.
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