The Edmonton Oilers’ dreadful season continues, as today head coach Ken Hitchcock and GM Keith Gretzky told reporters including Ryan Rishaug of TSN that Jesse Puljujarvi will go Tuesday to see a specialist about the lower-body injury he recently suffered. Hitchcock referred to the injury as “long term” to Rishaug, though no recovery timeline has been presented so far. Puljujarvi’s agent Markus Lehto told Mark Spector of Sportsnet that if surgery is needed it would “more than likely” mean the end of the young forward’s season.
It’s been a tough start to Puljujarvi’s career, which hasn’t gone nearly as expected since the Oilers used the fourth overall selection on him in 2017. While other players from later in that draft like Matthew Tkachuk (6th overall) and Clayton Keller (7th) have found early success, Puljujarvi has struggled to find a consistent role on the Oilers even with the team’s lack of offensive winger options. In 139 NHL games the 20-year old has just 37 points, but has also suited up only 53 times in the minor leagues over the last three years.
Notably, this injury means that Puljujarvi will not be able to participate in the AHL playoffs regardless of what the specialist says. Since Puljujarvi is on injured reserve and can’t be on the minor league active roster by Monday even as a paper transaction, he’ll miss the deadline for AHL playoff eligibility—unless some new information surfaces between now and then to allow the Oilers to make a move. With the Bakersfield Condors in first place in the Pacific Division, many Oilers fans had hoped Puljujarvi could be part of a long Calder Cup run to continue his development. Now, they’ll just hope he can return to full health as soon as possible.