Oilers News and Rumors: Puljujarvi, Smith, Larsson, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there are developments coming out of Finland where Jesse Puljujarvi has made a decision on his future, there are questions about who should get the start in Edmonton’s net and speculation about where to slot defenseman Adam Larsson when he returns from injury. And, the Oilers are making lineup changes despite a winning streak.

Puljujarvi Staying in Finland

Having touched on it in today’s NHL rumors rundown report, Jesse Puljujarvi isn’t coming back to the NHL, at least according to a report from Sami Hoffren of Ilta-Sanomat. Hoffren is reporting that Puljujarvi himself said he will be staying in Finland for the rest of the season.

Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Additional reports from Oilers media suggests Puljujarvi has said he’s staying even if traded and that Ken Holland is completely fine with that decision. The Oilers will look at trading him at next June’s NHL Entry Draft, likely looking to pick up someone else’s former first-round draft pick.

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Smith to Start, But Questions in Net

So far, coach Dave Tippett has rotated his goaltenders regularly. No goalie has gotten more than two consecutive starts all season and that won’t change tonight as Mikko Koskinen sits against the San Jose Sharks despite the fact he’s played extremely well.

Mike Smith Edmonton Oilers
Mike Smith, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Koskinen is slowly winning the starting job in Edmonton and a small debate about whether or not a 1A and 1B system is sustainable in the NHL surrounds the Oilers’ goaltender situation. If the Oilers have to eventually select a starter, is Koskinen that guy?

When asked to do a lot last season, the rigors of the NHL schedule clearly weighed on Koskinen. With Smith getting the start on Tuesday, Tippett clearly feels he’s not ready to designate a starter or put the full weight of the net-minding load on anyone yet.

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What to Do When Adam Larsson Returns

Allan Mitchell of The Athletic took a closer peek at what happens when Adam Larsson is ready to return to the Oilers blue line. It’s an interesting question.

Edmonton Oilers Adam Larsson
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

As Mitchell mentions:

At the beginning of the season, Tippett paired Larsson with Nurse on a shutdown pairing. Larsson’s injury forced a change and in the weeks since Nurse-Bear has emerged as the most dominant duo. Larsson and Klefbom have played together for years and that would seem the obvious choice for Tippett to make when Larsson returns.

Source – ‘Lowetide: Analyzing Dave Tippett’s defensive usage and what the Oilers will do when Adam Larsson returns’ – Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 11/12/2019

Is a Larsson and Klefbom pairing an easy decision? And, if so, are they the top-pair? Mitchell makes a good case that Ethan Bear has been Edmonton’s best defenseman this season based on underlying numbers. Larsson returning has to be considered great news but is potentially disrupting Bear’s rhythm a gamble the Oilers are going to take or is it easier to just ease Larsson into the lineup on a second pair?

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Oilers Making Changes Despite Winning Record

The Oilers will make a number of lineup changes as they face off against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. Coming out of the lineup will be Persson, Gaetan Haas and Markus Granlund. In comes Sam Gagner, Joakim Nygard and Brandon Manning.

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

While some are a bit surprised by the changes, especially taking Haas out of the lineup as he shows himself to be more and more comfortable, it speaks to the depth of the Oilers roster finally shining through a bit. Their bottom-six is still considered a team weakness but competition for spots is key to maintaining the effort level and production the Oilers are hoping to get out of a handful of players.

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