After a couple of days of training camp for the Edmonton Oilers, some key players for the 2020-21 season have already made some statements worth noting. During interviews with the media, names like Kyle Turris, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyson Barrie, Darnell Nurse, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid all spoke about their camps, the upcoming season and how they think things will go.
In all cases, the players offered some good insight into the team’s motivation and plans as part of a new North Division. But, in a couple of cases, four Oilers players offered nuggets that might be worth jotting down.
Jesse Puljujarvi Says “Speak Better, Play Better”
There will already be a lot of eyes on returning forward Jesse Puljuarvi this season, but one of the interesting things of note already out of camp is how big, strong and more comfortable he looks. Puljuarvi spoke with the media after Day 1 of camp and it was clear his communication skills were much improved and he pointed out that should lead to improved production.
It might seem like a small thing, but when asked if knowing the city, the language and the game a little better this time around will help, Puljujarvi acknowledged he’s made major strides in his English skills. “Ya, it helps a lot,” he said. He added, “You speak better, you play better.”
Whether that’s actually true or not may be less important than Puljujarvi believing that it helps. If he’s more comfortable with his coaches and teammates and feels he better understands what is expected of him, better knows his role and feels more involved, he’s likely to stay more engaged.
For a player like Puljujarvi — someone who most people believe has all the tools to be an effective top-six forward — it’s a matter of the little things.
A “Good Start” for Tyson Barrie
When asked about how he’d like to rebound from last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyson Barrie admitted that a slow start put him behind the 8-ball and he spent much of 2019-20 catching up and trying to win the fans back. He’s going to look to come out of the gates flying this season with the Oilers.
Expect the offense to heavily include Barrie and don’t be surprised if the defenseman gets on the board early and often for the Oilers. This is a player who can put up a ton of points when in the right situation. If he’s playing well to start the campaign, this could be a massive year for Barrie who wants to prove he’s an elite offensive defenseman.
As for his contributions to the Oilers top-level power play, Barrie says he doesn’t want to fix what isn’t broken. His goal is to help, maybe add a little something, but listen to the guys who had the best power play in the NHL last season.
Nugent-Hopkins Says This Is “As Deep a Group As We’ve Ever Had Here”
While he’s clearly talking only in reference to his time with the Oilers and not the team’s overall history in the league, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said he likes the additions the Oilers made this offseason and called this the deepest team the Oilers have ever had.
The consensus seems to be that the Oilers are much deeper lines one-through-four than in year’s past. Nugent-Hopkins said:
“Ya, I think that’s the feeling among the whole group right now. We’ve been able to do some 5-on-5 skates together and the pace has been really high, a lot of plays being made. Just by seeing that, it gives you a lot of confidence. Seeing the guys that we brought in and knowing what they’re capable of, it’s exciting. I think you’re bang on, this is as deep a group as we’ve ever had here.”
Will the additions of depth forwards, a suitable third-line center and extra skill prove to be a winner? He seems to think so.
Turris Wants to Prove That “People Are Right”
The Oilers have looked for a right-shot third-line center for years. It wasn’t until this past offseason that the team may have found one in Kyle Turris. He said he feels like he can be the guy that the Oilers are hoping he is.
He said, “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that people are right. That I’m the guy to fill that spot.” Turris talked about the importance of being a strong two-way player and that he takes pride in being smart defensively. At the same time, offense is what he really likes and he’s looking forward to being creative on offense.
Could this be the player that allows the Oilers to continue rolling forwards as outlined at the start of the season? Not having to worry about finding someone to fill that third-line slot could be a huge factor in building chemistry in the top-nine.
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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