The Edmonton Oilers are starting to move in the right direction but they’ll have to do it without Jesse Puljujarvi for the next little while. Head coach Jay Woodcroft told reporters today that Puljujarvi’s lower-body injury will keep him out about four weeks.
Since Woodcroft took over four games ago, Puljujarvi already had three points before exiting last night’s match against the Anaheim Ducks early. The fourth-overall pick from 2016 was finally starting to come into his own this season, racking up 12 goals and 28 points through 46 games while playing a career-high in minutes. A frustrating case of mismanagement early in his career, it appears as though the Oilers and the young forward have finally figured out how to best use his rare blend of speed, size, and skill.
Losing him now will also throw a wrench in the lines for Edmonton, which had finally seemed like a cohesive four-unit group the last few games. Jason Gregor of TSN believes that Ryan McLeod might be bumped up the lineup, giving him a huge opportunity to establish himself further at the NHL level. The team also has Brendan Perlini, who hasn’t played since January 25, as an option to re-enter the lineup.
In a season like a roller coaster, the Oilers are currently on a four-game winning streak and now have retaken the third spot in the Pacific Division playoff race. That streak will be tested soon enough though, as after tomorrow’s game against the Winnipeg Jets, the team has a brutal stretch with games against the Minnesota Wild, Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, and Carolina Hurricanes, all teams positioning themselves as Stanley Cup contenders. They’ll have to go through those matches without Puljujarvi.