Oilers News and Rumors: Puljujarvi, Gagner, Persson, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there are details about the likelihood of Jesse Puljujarvi ever returning to the Oilers as a player, a promotion for Sam Gagner, a demotion for Joel Perssson and what one skill has Connor McDavid been working on?

Puljujarvi Not Coming Back

With the struggles in the Oilers bottom-six, the prospect of seeing Jesse Puljujarvi in an Oilers uniform has some fans excited. Recent reports have GM of the Edmonton Oilers, Ken Holland, heading over to Finland for The Karjala Cup — an international tournament beginning Thursday. While he scouts players in that tournament, there is speculation he’s going to chat with Puljujarvi about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

Remember, the Oilers have to sign or trade Puljujarvi by December 1, 2019 or he’s ineligible to play in the NHL this season.

Edmonton Oilers Jesse Puljujarvi Buffalo Sabres Vladimir Sobotka
Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi and Buffalo Sabres forward Vladimir Sobotka (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

But, what will they talk about? Sportnet’s Elliotte Friedman spoke directly to Puljujarvi’s rep, Markus Lehto, who through text, politely shot down any chance of Puljujarvi returning to the Oilers, saying a new address remains the preferred course of action.

What’s interesting about the trip from Holland’s perspective is that he might actually spend less time on Puljujarvi and more time checking out Konstantin Okulov. Friedman notes that he wouldn’t be shocked if the Oilers were in on Okulov even though most insiders have the Montreal Canadiens as the team leading the charge in acquiring the KHL star.

Related: Best Undrafted Players in NHL History

Sam Gagner Getting Top-Line Opportunity

As the Oilers get ready to face off with the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, Sam Gagner is getting an opportunity to produce at a level he’s not yet seen this season.

Edmonton Oilers Sam Gagner Arizona Coyotes Jason Demers
Edmonton Oilers forward Sam Gagner and Arizona Coyotes defensemen Jason Demers (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Gagner hasn’t been with the big club for much of the season and in six games, he’s not produced much offensively (one assist). That said, he’s pushing the offense a bit and coach Dave Tippett wants to get a different look on that top line.

This is not so much an indication Zack Kassian is getting demoted, just more Tippett trying new things, knowing Gagner is a veteran with a knack for knowing where to go and what to do in most situations. Gagner being in a prime spot could possibly jump-start his production.

A similar opportunity was given to Alex Chiasson and he didn’t make much of it. If Gagner doesn’t step in and seize the moment, he likely won’t stay there.

Related: Gagner’s Most Memorable Oilers Moments

Joel Persson in the Oilers Doghouse?

On the opposite end of the spectrum sits a player like Joel Persson. Tippett understands Persson is still getting acquainted with the NHL game but he needs to see more.

The defenseman was benched after he made a soft dump in that led to Carl Soderberg’s goal when the Oilers played Arizona but it wasn’t just that play that has Tippett thinking he’s got to shorten Persson’s leash. Too many soft plays by Persson has him coming out of the lineup.

Joel Persson Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton Oilers defensemen Joel Persson (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Tippett basically said of Persson’s game:

“He’s still in a learning curve … He gets into a game and thinks ‘OK, we’re playing hockey,’ but there’s a difference between playing hockey and playing hockey for keeps. Those are the things that are hard for a defenceman who hasn’t played at this level.”

source – ‘Joel Persson is very much learning on the job as NHL D-man’ Jim Matheson – The Edmonton Journal – 11/05/2019

There has been a bit more time for Persson because the Oilers see him as skilled when it comes to moving the puck. They’re just looking for him to be more competitive.

Related: Oilers Unexpected Leadership Making World of Difference

Connor McDavid Working On Specific Shot

The Oilers had an optional practice on Wednesday and of the eight players on the ice, Connor McDavid was one of them. He was working specifically on shooting while on the rush.

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

If there’s one area that some have said McDavid needs improvement, it’s in being a bit more selfish and shooting more often. Perhaps in 2-on-1 situations he could choose to fire the puck instead of passing it off. It sounds like McDavid is ready to do just that.

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