The Edmonton Oilers proved this year was all about today and made three transactions that are sure to help the team in the short term and the long term.
The Oilers finally assigned rookie winger Jesse Puljujarvi to Bakersfield, while recalling Anton Slepyshev.
Following a second straight poor effort, the Oilers finally cut ties with goaltender Jonas Gustavsson.
Jesse Puljujarvi was selected 4th overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and was considered a steal for the Oilers after being projected to be in the top three all year.
Puljujarvi had a fairly quiet preseason but still made the club’s opening night roster. Puljujarvi scored in his first NHL game, but went scoreless in the next 27 games and was being used very sparingly over the last month.
Puljujarvi will now head down to the minors where he will get 15-20 minutes a night and will likely be counted on to add some offence. This will help Puljujarvi regain his confidence and I expect he will return to the Oilers a better player before the trade deadline.
Better late than never.
RECALLING ANTON SLEPYSHEV
I was shocked that Slepyshev was sent down before Puljujarvi. Slepyshev plays a hard two-way game and his wicked wrester is always a threat to score.
While he was not the most consistent offensive player, Slepyshev was showing signs of coming into his own as an NHL player.
The good thing about AHL time is it is never a bad thing for a young player, and Slepyshev had his best offensive stretch since turning pro in North America last season.
Slepyshev scored three goals and seven assists in his nine AHL games, a vast improvement on the 21 he had in 49 games last year.
Slepyshev should draw back into the lineup against the San Jose Sharks and I’ll be excited to see what he can bring to the lineup.
WAIVING JONAS GUSTAVSSON
From the very moment the Oilers signed Gustavsson, I was like many other Oiler fans, I was extremely disappointed.
Goalies like Al Montoya, Jhonas Enroth, Chad Johnson, Karri Ramo and even Carter Hutton were much better options than Gustavsson, but Peter Chiarelli felt comfortable going with the man they call “The Monster”.
Gustavsson’s ghastly performance against the Senator’s was the last nail in the coffin. Alex Thomas wrote about the other goaltending options this morning.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are expected to place Curtis McElhinney on waivers today at noon, and while his numbers and track record aren’t off-the-charts, one would have to think he’s a better option than Gustavsson.
McElhinney has a 2-1-2 record, a 2.39 GAA, and a .924 save percentage in a small sample size on the best team in the league.
Whoever the Oilers get to replace Gustavsson will likely need to start 8-10 games to ensure Talbot stays fresh down the road.
Today’s transactions show that the organization is going to hold players accountable and that the club is serious about winning today. Now.
Not tomorrow or in the future. Now.
Puljujarvi’s demotion should have happened much sooner, but it is better late than never.
Slepyshev should stick with the big club for the remainder of the year.
Gustavsson should head off to #RobidasIsland and be exiled from the NHL.