In this edition of Edmonton Oilers News & Rumors, I’ll share insights from the Oilers’ organization as well as news emerging from Sunday’s game that was an Edmonton 4-3 win over Winnipeg when Leon Draisaitl scored with less than a second left in regulation.
Item One: Tyler Ennis Clears Waivers
Tyler Ennis was placed on waivers by the Oilers Monday. He hasn’t scored in four games this season and only skated for 6:15 of ice time during Sunday’s game against the Jets. He cleared waivers Tuesday and will likely join the Oilers Taxi Squad.
Item Two: Oilers Move Zack Kassian to Third Line
The Oilers moved Zack Kassian to the third line after a tough start to the season, with only a single assist in the five games he’s played. However, with an assist on Kyle Turris’ first goal of the season, Kassian suddenly doubled his season’s total.
Head coach Dave Tippett noted that he’d “had a lot of chats with Kass, we’re trying to get him more engaged in the game and involved in the game, whether that be physically or different parts of the game.”
Tippett also noted that “His last couple of games have been not bad, but I still think there is some more growth in there to have more of an impact on the game. You have to make sure when you’re in the game — especially a guy like Kass, who is a hard guy to play against when he’s on his game — the other team’s got to know you’re in the game.” (from “OILERS SNAPSHOTS: Opportunity knocks for Jesse Puljujarvi,” Derek Van Diest, Edmonton Sun, 25/01/21).
Item Three: Jesse Puljujarvi Scores an Assist on Sunday
Talk about a whale of an opportunity. Young Jesse Puljujarvi is getting playing time on the Oilers’ top line with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. And, it isn’t as if this is a gift. He seems to be a much better player after a season away in Finland.
Again Tippett weighed in to say, “We like what Jesse’s being doing in games, he’s around the puck a lot, he goes to the front of the net hard, he’s creating loose pucks.”
Tippett suggested that “We’re just trying to find a different look to see if we can find something. We’ve kept a pretty close eye on him since the start of camp, he’s come in with a great attitude. He wanted to just get comfortable with everything we’re trying to do and you look at the game he’s playing, he’s playing a real North American game, a hard game along the boards and so we’ll see.”
So far, Puljujarvi has two assists in the seven games he’s played; but, if he stays with McDavid, he’ll likely get more. Oilers’ fans can only imagine if one of it’s star players can develop a partner from Finland to pass to who can regularly convert those passes. Not that he’s anywhere close yet, but isn’t that shades of the Great Wayne Gretzky and his long-time partner from Finland Jari Kurri?
Item Four: Connor McDavid Racks Up Three Assists
Speaking of McDavid, he assisted on three goals during Sunday’s win. That included Leon Draisaitl’s game winner with literally less than a second to play in the Oilers’ 4-3 win over the Jets.
Suddenly, out of the blue, there’s McDavid now tied for the lead in NHL scoring. Other leaders include the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mitch Marner and the Los Angeles Kings’ Anze Kopitar. All three have racked up 10 points.
For McDavid, that’s no surprise. He’s expected to be either on top or near the top of the NHL scoring race all season.
Item Five: Leon Draisaitl Scores Game Winner
As noted above, Leon Draisaitl scored the game-winner on Sunday’s 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Draisaitl’s game-winning goal actually set an Oilers’ franchise record. Because it came with under a second left in regulation, it became the game-winning goal scored with the least time remaining in any game in Oilers’ history.
Draisaitl also added an assist for a two-point game. Thus far during the season the great German forward has three goals and six assists for nine points, only one behind the NHL leaders (including his teammate McDavid).
Draisaitl’s now on a three-game scoring streak, which is good news for the Oilers because it likely means he’s finding some of the offense he had been missing earlier in the season.
Item Six: Mikko Koskinen Makes 35 Saves in Victory
Mikko Koskinen’s starting to play better, and made 35 saves in the 4-3 win over the Jets. He let in three goals on 38 Winnipeg shots to end the game with a save percentage of .921. He held the Jets off the scoreboard when he had to; and, as a result, gave his team space to roar back for the last-second victory. His record now stands at 3-4-0.
Item Seven: Happy Birthday Wayne Gretzky
After 20 seasons and 1,487 games played in the NHL, the hockey legend holds 61 different records including for the most goals scored with 894. Just as a comparison for how good Gretzky was, McDavid had reached 469 points by his 24th birthday. At 24, The Great One had 1050.
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