Oilers News and Rumors: Puljujarvi, Nurse, McDavid, More

In the latest news and rumors report for the Edmonton Oilers, there is a ton of talk right now about Darnell Nurse. Is he worth the money he’s likely to command on his next deal or should the Oilers consider moving him?

Meanwhile, what’s the latest on Jesse Puljujarvi? He’s playing well in Finland and looks like a different hockey player in only a couple of games? Is this helping garner interest in him around the NHL?

Does the team need to be more than just Connor McDavid to be a playoff-bound franchise and what’s the plan on the blue line? Associate coach Jim Playfair reveals a great deal about his plan in an interesting interview.

Puljujarvi Doing Well in Finland

Disgruntled Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi is showing well in Finland playing for Karpat. In two games, he has three points and he’s logging some pretty big minutes putting shots on net. This is good news for the Oilers.

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

While some fans might be unhappy the player who many believe has abandoned the team is performing well, the more Puljujarvi stands out, the more NHL teams develop interest. Right now, the two teams that seem to be the most interested are the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Carolina just found out that Justin Williams is not returning. That may increase the odds that they’re looking for more offense. Tampa’s interest may not be defined as serious, but the team has been connected in discussions to Edmonton by more than one media scribe. Where’s there’s smoke, there might be fire.

Related: 3 Biggest Trades in Red Wings History

Will Nurse Command Top Dollar?

One of the big topics this season surrounding the Edmonton Oilers will be the play of defenseman Darnell Nurse. Last season he put up strong offensive numbers, logged major minutes, and appeared to be on the cusp of being one of Edmonton’s defencemen of the future.

What happens if Nurse continues on that trend?

Edmonton Oilers Darnell Nurse
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

If the Oilers are going to shell out big money for a defenseman over the long-term, the team will need to be absolutely certain they are obtaining a player that can not only provide offense but shut down the opposing team’s best players. There are still questions about whether or not Nurse is that guy.

Jonathan Willis of The Athletic writes:

A year out, the likeliest outcome for Nurse and the Oilers seems to be a long-term extension modeled on the Lindell and Dumba contracts, a cap hit starting with a six over five or six seasons. The more strained the relationship or the circumstances, the shorter the term is likely to be.

source -‘How much money will Darnell Nurse make on his next NHL contract?’ – The Athletic- Jonathan Willis – 08/27/2019

Expect throughout the season media to ask the questions of Nurse based on his production. Will he get big money? Or, will the Oilers look to move him?

Related: Oilers Coach Dave Tippett’s Plan: 10 Things

Oilers Only 20% Chance of Making Playoffs?

According to Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic, the Edmonton Oilers stand only a 20 percent of making the playoffs this season, based mostly on the assessment that their top-end is elite but most of the roster left to round it out is unrecognizable name upon unrecognizable name.

Edmonton Oilers Kyle Brodziak
Edmonton Oilers forward Kyle Brodziak (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Luszczyszyn writes:

With similar good fortune, the Oilers can make a surprising postseason run. In an incredibly weak Pacific division, it’s not that unreasonable.

That’s obviously not the most likely outcome — that would be a bottom-four finish in their division, somewhere between 80-90 points, which is where 45 percent of their seasons finish.

source – ‘2019-20 NHL Season Preview: Edmonton Oilers’ – Dom Luszczyszyn -The Athletic – 09/01/2019

Is this fair? Is it fair to say that Connor McDavid is extremely valuable but without him, the “rest of the team might be fighting with Ottawa for the privilege of being the league’s worst team”? It doesn’t help when Luszczyszyn points out that McDavid’s numbers rank him among the worst in the NHL for defensive forwards.

Basically, he writes that if the Oilers stand a chance this season, they need more than McDavid surrounded by “Guy, Guy, Guy.”

Related: NHL Rumors: Canadiens, Senators, Stars, Sabres, More

Playfair Has a Plan

Former Calgary Flames head coach and now an associate coach with the Edmonton Oilers, Jim Playfair was a guest on 630 CHED’s Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer this past week. During his interview, Playfair talked a lot about his vision for the defensive scheme of the team this season.

Edmonton Oilers Kris Russell
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Kris Russell (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Among the notes, Playfair said of his plan for placing certain players:

“It’d be nice to get Kris (Russell) back on the left side. It’d be nice to have the left-right pairing. Ideally, that’s what you want. If Darnell (Nurse) and (Adam) Larsson end up together as a shutdown pairing, I think that’s something we’re going to look at early to see if that works.”

Playfair said he watched at least 20 games of each defenceman and built a structured teaching video for each guy to sit down individually and go through the positives and negatives of what they’re doing on the ice. He said one thing he’s been keying in on the blueline swagger. “I want them to pass the puck with a little more authority and defend ice with a little more authority,” he explained.

You can listen to the interview here:

Related: The Oilers Need To Put It All Together