Jesse Puljujarvi

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Which NHLers could be heading to the World Juniors?

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The World Junior Hockey Championship is just a few weeks away, which is great news. Although most countries have named their preliminary rosters for the upcoming tournament, there’s still a chance that NHLers could be added in the next little while.

NHL teams have the option to loan out their junior-eligible players to their respective countries for the two-week tournament that runs from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 5, 2018 in Buffalo, New York.

Reminder: Teams have until Dec. 19 to decide if they’re going to loan their players to their respective countries.

So, who’s in and who’s out?

TEAM CANADA

Jakob Chychrun-D-Arizona Coyotes

Chychrun made his 2017-18 regular season debut on Sunday, after he missed the start of the season because of a knee injury. He played 22:40 and scored a goal against the Golden Knights in his first game of 2017-18. Chychrun heading to the World Juniors is probably unlikely, but it simply can’t be ruled out because of the amount of time he missed due to injury.

Pierre-Luc Dubois-C-Columbus Blue Jackets

The Jackets rookie has a modest 11 points in 28 games, but six of those have come in the last five games. Dubois wasn’t getting much ice time early on in the season. That seems to be changing, as it appears as though he’s earned head coach John Tortorella’s trust. He’s played over 18 minutes in five of his last seven contests. Dubois is starting to become a big part of the team. It would be mildly surprising to see him be loaned out for the tournament.

Samuel Girard-D-Colorado Avalanche

At the start of the season, you probably would’ve thought that Girard would be playing in the tournament, but things have changed. Since being traded from Nashville to Colorado, he’s played a huge role with his new team. He’s played under 20 minutes in each of his last five outings, but he’s still averaging 19:22 of ice time per game.

Tyson Jost-F-Colorado Avalanche

Jost missed a significant amount of time because of a lower-body injury, but he’s back in the lineup right now. The 19-year-old has no points in five games since returning and he’s up to just one goal and one assist in 11 contests this season. Colorado is four points out of a playoff spot, which isn’t significant, but they’re probably a year or two away from being a serious contender anyway. Jost won a silver medal with Team Canada last year. He had a goal and four points in 7 seven games during the tournament. Don’t be surprised if he represents his country again.

Victor Mete-D-Montreal Canadiens

Mete had a terrific training camp with the Canadiens, but he’s come down to earth a little bit. The 19-year-old has been made a healthy scratch a couple of times this season and with Jakub Jerabek and David Schlemko now on the roster, Montreal could opt to send their young blue liner to the tournament. Mete was part of Team Canada’s Summer Showcase roster last summer.

Nolan Patrick-F-Philadelphia Flyers

The second overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft has had a tough introduction to pro hockey. Not only has he missed nine games because of an upper-body injury, he also hasn’t really played much when he has been in the Flyers lineup. Patrick has two goals and four assists, while averaging just over 12 minutes of ice time in 19 games. The 19-year-old missed last year’s tournament because of an injury. Playing heavy minutes with players his own age could prove to be a valuable experience for the rookie.

TEAM FINLAND

Patrik Laine-F-Winnipeg Jets

This is probably the biggest no-brainer on the list. There’s absolutely no chance that Laine is going to Buffalo to represent his country. We’ll just leave it at that.

Jesse Puljujarvi-F-Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers didn’t loan Puljujarvi to Team Finland last year when he playing in the minors, so it’s unlikely that they’d let him take off now that he’s contributing on the NHL roster. He owned the tournament last time he played in it in 2016, as he had an incredible 17 points in seven games.

TEAM RUSSIA

Mikhail Sergachev-D-Tampa Bay Lighting

Sergachev had a disappointing tournament last year, but he’s been way too good with the Bolts to head back there. The 19-year-old has averaged 14:32 of ice time, which isn’t significant, but he’s been productive in limited minutes. Sergachev has six goals and 19 points in 28 games. That puts him on pace to score 18 goals and almost 60 points.

TEAM SWEDEN

Jesper Bratt-F-New Jersey Devils

In the first third of the 2017-18 season, there probably hasn’t been a bigger surprise than Bratt. The 19-year-old was the Devils’ sixth-round pick in 2016, and no one expected him to produce like this. The rookie now has nine goals and 19 points in 27 games. Would they ever consider sending him to Buffalo for the tournament? No way.

TEAM SWITZERLAND

Nico Hischier-F-New Jersey Devils

The top pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft is having a strong rookie season. He’s picked up five goals and 20 points in 27 games, which puts him on pace to hit the 60-point mark in his first year. The Devils, who have shocked the hockey world by being in top spot in their division, need Hischier too much to allow him to leave for two weeks. He’s not going anywhere.

TEAM USA

Clayton Keller-F-Arizona Coyotes

Even though he’s slowed down over the last month, there’s no way the ‘Yotes will be sending Keller to the world juniors. The 19-year-old is an important part of his team and he doesn’t have anything left to prove in the junior ranks.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

Oilers send 2016 first-round pick Puljujarvi back to the AHL

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Jesse Puljujarvi is back on his way to the American Hockey League.

On Sunday, the Oilers sent the 19-year-0ld Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick in 2016, to the Bakersfield Condors, after he scored twice with three points in five preseason games for Edmonton.

It appears the play of 2017 first-round pick Kailer Yamamoto through training camp could’ve played a role in the decision to send Puljujarvi to the minors, where he scored 12 goals and 28 points in 39 games last season.

Yamamoto is listed at only 5-foot-8 tall, but he’s been very productive throughout his junior career and has impressed during training camp to the point where beginning the season in Edmonton has become a real possibility.

The Oilers have the option of keeping Yamamoto with the NHL club to start the year, giving him nine games of experience and then sending him back to junior without using up a year of his entry-level contract.

McLellan expects Strome to ‘respond and be better’ after sending preseason message

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Ryan Strome played a portion of Saturday’s preseason game on a line with Connor McDavid.

That, according to reports, eventually changed throughout the course of the game, as coach Todd McLellan put prospect Jesse Puljujarvi on the top line in place of Strome.

In part, the move was made to help get Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick in 2016, going offensively. In part, the move was made to send an early message to Strome, who was acquired in the Jordan Eberle trade in June. That was essentially the explanation McLellan delivered following the game, according to Sportsnet.

He reiterated that on Monday.

“In Ryan’s case, it was a message that went to him fairly early in the process, just so that he gets it out of his system early,” McLellan told reporters.

“I’d rather do that now than do it two or three games into the year and have him confused or wondering what or why. We sat with him today and went through some video clips and we expect him to respond and be better. We’re still trying to figure him out as he’s trying to figure us out. But we’re going to push him . . . to be the player that we believe he is and hopefully it pays off for him and for us.”

The Oilers continue their preseason schedule tonight at home against the Carolina Hurricanes. Strome, 24, has the ability to play both center and on the wing, which should give McLellan more options as he sets his forward combinations ahead of the regular season.

In terms of the message from the coaching staff, Strome called it a “learning process.”

“I saw a couple of the clips that I thought could have been improved on,” said Strome, per the Oilers. “Clean that up and I really just think that at the end of the day you have to get yourself ready for the start of the year. It’s building, and trying to get to where you want to be.”

Edmonton makes decision with Puljujarvi — he’s off to the minors

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Last week, Brough wrote how the Oilers needed to make a decision about Jesse Puljujarvi‘s playing future.

Today, they made it.

The Oilers have sent Puljujarvi, the No. 4 overall pick at last year’s draft, to their American League affiliate in Bakersfield. The decision comes after the 18-year-old’s ice time bottomed out in Thursday’s win over Boston — the Finnish winger played a team-low 3:27 against the B’s, his second-lowest total of the year (and to be fair, his lowest total, 3:07 against the Isles, was the result of an injury.)

Things have been trending in this direction for a while. Puljujarvi’s play has been erratic, and his ice time has decreased as a result — prior to the Boston game, he logged just 9:14 of ice time in a 3-1 loss to Columbus.

Puljujarvi finished that game with no shots and a team-worst Corsi of 23 percent at even strength. He also took a holding penalty in the first period, which the Blue Jackets turned into a power-play goal.

The decision to send him to Bakersfield has been hanging around for quite some time. Even before this latest stretch, Puljujarvi clearly hadn’t earned the trust of head coach Todd McLellan, who’d made him a healthy scratch on a few occasions.

Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli had also previously acknowledged a stint in the minors could be best for Puljujarvi’s growth as a player.

“This is an age-old dilemma,” said Chiarelli. “You have to balance the development at playing eight minutes (in the NHL) versus 15 minutes or 20 minutes somewhere else.”

Oilers have a decision to make with Jesse Puljujarvi

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It may soon be time for the Edmonton Oilers to send Jesse Puljujarvi to the AHL.

Puljujarvi, the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft, logged just 9:14 of ice time in last night’s 3-1 loss to Columbus. He finished with no shots and a team-worst Corsi of 23 percent at even strength. The 18-year-old winger also took a holding penalty in the first period, which the Blue Jackets turned into a power-play goal.

Frankly, there were times when he looked a little lost out there.

Granted, he was hardly the only Oiler who struggled against the NHL’s hottest team. It was not a good night for veteran wingers Benoit Pouliot or Jordan Eberle either.

But Puljujarvi has only played seven games since the start of December. He only has one goal in 27 games, and he clearly hasn’t earned the trust of head coach Todd McLellan.

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A few weeks ago, Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli said sending Puljujarvi to the AHL was, indeed, a possibility.

“This is an age-old dilemma,” said Chiarelli. “You have to balance the development at playing eight minutes (in the NHL) versus 15 minutes or 20 minutes somewhere else.”

The Oilers have three games left on their road trip — Thursday in Boston, Saturday in New Jersey, and Sunday in Ottawa.

At practice this morning, Puljujarvi skated on the fourth line with Anton Lander and Mark Letestu.