Edmonton Oilers Notes: Wideman free from Ottawa drama; trying again with Puljujarvi

Edmonton Oilers Notes: Wideman free from Ottawa drama; trying again with Puljujarvi
Game Preview 23.0: Edmonton Oilers at Los Angeles Kings (8:30pm MST, Sportsnet West)
In todays rumor rundown, things are starting to get down to the wire when it comes to William Nylander but it sounds like theres a number out there that will get a deal done. The Oilers also called up one of their younger prospects in the hopes that a closer look by their new head coach could make a difference. There was a report on Saturday that two former head coaches may have teams interested in their services and an injured Dallas Star might be inching closer to a return.

eval(ez_write_tag([[728,90],thehockeywriters_com-box-3,ezslot_2]));Chris Johnston of Sportsnet revisited the William Nylander contract situation — something NHL media will do often now considering there are only five days remaining to sign Nylander before hes ineligible to play in the NHL this season. He reports the clock is ticking but that a six-year deal remains possible, with the Nylander camp perhaps willing to accept something around $6.9 million per season. Former NHL player Marc Sarvard said as much on Twitter the other day and he seemed pretty confident that the same number would get Nylander in a Toronto uniform.

Im hearing that 6.9 mill a year gets @wmnylander in a @MapleLeafs uniform before December 1st deadline !! My insider will remain anonymous!! Goodnight Ladies & Gents…

Elliotte Friedman reports the two sides are getting closer, potentially within about half-a-million dollars of each other. Don Cherry seems to think the sticking point in contract negotiations is the numbers Mitch Marner will eventually get and that Nylander sees himself as comparable if not a better player.eval(ez_write_tag([[580,400],thehockeywriters_com-medrectangle-3,ezslot_1]));

Meanwhile, Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star believes the Maple Leafs have backup plans in place if a deal cant get done. He speculates the Leafs have something brewing with the Carolina Hurricanes that could include high-end defensemen such as Brett Pesce, Justin Faulk, and/or Dougie Hamilton. So too, they may have something cooking with Anaheim Ducks blueliners Brandon Montour.

If it doesnt look like a deal can be done, they might trade him to a club more willing to meet his demands. The Leafs have three regulars on defence playing in the last year of their contracts: Jake Gardiner, Igor Ozhiganov and Ron Hainsey. So, blue-line help would be a key to any swap.

source – Trade fits tricky if Leafs dont sign Nylander – The Star – Mark Zwolinski – 11/24/2018

The Edmonton Oilers surprisingly called up Jesse Puljujarvi from Bakersfield where he had gone to the AHL to get more minutes and build confidence. He was playing extremely well but the word is new Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock didnt want him down there when he could get a better look in Edmonton.

I wanted responsibility for his development, Hitchcock said (via Oilers Jack Michaels). I didnt just want to be watching him play in AHL. I feel this is the type of player we need to win in the Western Conference. I asked (general manager Peter Chiarelli) if hed bring him up for practice today.

The move leads to a few questions. First, is Puljujarvi here to play or just practice? Second, how much pull does the new coach have in Edmonton considering it took the general manager quite some time before he sent Puljujarvi down? Third, where will Puljujarvi play? If hes a bottom-six forward there will be some controversy over the move citing that not playing bigger minutes will hurt his development over playing 20 minutes a night in the AHL. Finally, is this evidence that former coach Todd McLellan just wasnt a fan of Puljujarvis and the big Finn had worked his way into McLellans doghouse?

While it doesnt sound like anyone new is immediately on the coaching hot seat, there is specutlation when it comes to recently released coaches Todd McLellan and Joel Quenneville. Nick Kypreos said during the Headlines segment on Sportsnet some teams have shown some interest in both coaches.

I do know that you need permission to talk to these guys from their respective clubs – Chicago and Edmonton – but you can gauge interest indirectly through a third-party, and we believe thats whats happened with both of these guys in some capacity.

Some have speculated the Oilers reached out to Quenneville before hiring Hitchcock and Kypreos believes theres a fit in Los Angeles where the Kings might believe McLellan is their guy. Of course, after that report came out, two reporters closer to the Kings said Kypreos report was inaccurate.

Jon Rosen tweeted the Los Angeles Kings are not courting coach Todd McLellan and Lisa Dillman checked with a source about the Kings reported interest in coach McLellan and less that four minutes after sending the text got a reply No.

SportsDays Mike Heika reports that injured forward Martin Hanzal will travel with the team for their upcoming road trip, but is still a couple weeks away from returning. Hanzal has played only 38 games since signing with the Dallas Stars in the 2017 offseason.

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The Edmonton Oilers can wrap up their West Coast swing with 5 out of a possible 6  points, with a win in L.A. tonight.

What a whirlwind! When this trip started, Todd McLellan was still coach, Jesse Puljujarvi was in the minors, the club had lost 6 of 7, and this game in Hollywood was probably the only one to be semi-confident in that points could be forthcoming.

Instead, flash forward 6 days. The formerly retired Ken Hitchcock is behind the bench. Puljujarvi is in the NHL again. The club has at least temporarily pulled itself out of its swoon. And now…these 2 points represent the Oilers best opportunity to rescue a season that appeared to have been spiraling in the wrong direction.

A victory would pull the Oilers back to within 1 points (Anaheim/Vegas) of a playoff spot in the Pacific. And the Oilers have 3-games in-hand on the Golden Knights, 2 on the Ducks.

9. Some cried nepotism when the Edmonton Oilers drafted the son of their goal-tending instructor. But Cult of Hockey friend Matt Mosewich (@EDMFutureWatch) says Olivier Rodrique has won 7 in a row for the Drummondville of the QMJHL. Over that stretch: .940 Sv%, 1.77 GAA.

8. No one will confuse Kevin Gravel for Paul Coffey. But from what I have seen, Gravel can defend. Remember: He developed in the L.A. Kings system for 219 professional games. L.A. (at the time) put a great deal of emphasis on how that part of the game. Even when Andrej Sekera does return, I see Gravel as a solid 6/7.

7. Ken Hitchcock has always liked the cycle game. Keep the puck as far away from your own net as possible. Ideally…200 feet. So is it any wonder that he sees the value in a line of Kyle Brodziak,Milan Lucic and Zack Kassian? They’ve been good over 2 games. No goals allowed 5×5 and possession numbers over 70%.

6. Cooper Marody was optioned back to Bakersfield at the outset of the weekend. On paper, the Oilers look like they are short a Center. But I expect Connor McDavid will double-shift lots. And so a “4th line” of Khiara-Rattie-Puljujarvi could pretty quickly and frequently become “McDavid-Puljujarvi-Rattie/Khaira”.

5. Chris Wideman is an interesting find for the club. An associate of mine who has watched Wideman regularly over the past few years says: “Excellent passer. Smart decisions with the puck. Agility enables him to get out of trouble. Accurate shot gets to the net. Smallish frame leads to defensive issues versus heavier players”.

4. A lot of people would like to fire young Matt Benning into the sun. But that could really be short-sighted. There’s no question the kid is struggling. But have we learned nothing from giving up on young, right-handed shot D-men in this city who have yet to play 200 NHL games? Plus, given that all facets of Benning’s game appear off, I also wonder if Benning is hurt? Remember the concussion he suffered against Boston.

3. It looks like newly acquired Chris Wideman will draw in over Benning tonight. Todd McLellan had lobbied his General Manager hard for a right-shot D-man well before the spring draft. Tyson Barrie is the kind of puck mover that McLellan had in mind. But that calmed considerably after Evan Bouchard was drafted. The GM ultimately acted upon it only after McLellan’s dismissal.

2. There were a lot of people (me included) who thought that Hitchcock may ride the hot handed Mikko Koskinen for the entire West Coast trip. The schedule was favorable enough to do so. Koskinen played well in both San Jose and Anaheim. But Cam Talbot gets the nod in L.A.. Hitchcock answered why in one of his first media avails. In today’s NHL you need 2 goalies. Hitchcock is an aggressive coach. If he can get both Koskinen and Talbot rolling, that’s a significant advantage for his club.

1.The elephant in the room: Jesse Puljujarvi. When Puljujarvi was demoted to the AHL there was no question in my mind that it was the right move. The progression I had seen in Jesse’s game during training camp had evaporated. I saw Bakersfield as his chance to rediscover his game and his confidence. That would be good for the player, the team, everyone. I did not anticipate him being back after just 4 AHL games. Some will argue that this organization just can’t help itself and that this illustrates their addiction to rushing prospects. However: The only hand that Ken Hitchcock had in the Decade of Darkness in Edmonton was handing it to us but-good on most nights from the other bench. He’s not one of the Boys on the Bus. And it was he, and not Peter Chiarelli, that instigated the conversation about recalling Puljujarvi early.

Whether this is a miscalculation or not we will find out soon enough. But what this isn’t is “muscle memory”. This is a veteran set of steady eyes in Ken Hitchcock, fresh to the Oilers situation, making the call.

So perhaps delay the “Hitch Must Go” billboards. Y’know…just for a few games, at least.