As many had anticipated, the Edmonton Oilers announced they have assigned Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto, two of their top young players, to Bakersfield of the AHL in hopes of sparking their play.
Puljujarvi, the team’s fourth-overall pick in the 2016 draft, was expected to put up big numbers after two years of struggles when he arrived. However, instead, the 20-year-old seems to have regressed with just one goal this year, five healthy scratches, and has seen his playing time on the ice dwindle, as he received just 9:06 minutes of ice time on Thursday. That has prompted much discussion about whether the team should send him down to Bakersfield, a proposal that Pujujarvi is not particularly interested in doing.
Yamamoto, the team’s 22nd-overall pick in 2017, was sent back to the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL after playing in nine games last season, but the team opted to keep him on the roster this year. The diminutive, speedy forward, however, hasn’t produced as he has just one goal and one assist in 12 games and also has been a healthy scratch several times, receiving one of his lowest ATOI’s of the season Tuesday with just 12:34.
This is likely the best case scenario for both players as scratching them hasn’t provided the impact on either player that the team had hoped for. The belief is that both players will receive top-line minutes in Bakersfield and get the opportunity to receive massive amounts of ice time in all situations in hopes of getting both players back in gear and back to the team as quickly as possible. There is hope the Condors will team him with center Cooper Marody in hopes of forming a formidable line. The three would likely have a few days to practice before Bakersfield goes on a busy stretch of games in which they would play five games over their next nine days, starting on Nov. 16.