Puljujarvi needs to capitalize on a fresh start with Edmonton Oilers

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Jesse Puljujarvi makes a fresh start and a great launch pad.

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Puljujarvi opened the first day of Thursday’s Edmonton Oilers training camp on a streak with Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl, a clear message that head coach Jay Woodcroft is ready to forget about last season and give the 24-year-old Finn a golden opportunity to launch. his professional life.

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“He’s looking to take a step in his game and consistently top six minutes,” said Woodcroft, who didn’t see enough in Bolgwarvi to secure that kind of icy time last year.

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“I think he had a good summer. I think he started with a couple of really good teammates and he is keen to prove what he can do.”

Now it’s up to the beleaguered and sometimes underperforming wing to do something with this. It’s his sixth year in the NHL. He earns $3 million. He gets another chance in the top six. He even admits it’s time to step up and finally become the player he can be.

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“It is,” he said, adding that you can’t order more than Hyman and Draisaitl on your line. “They are two good players. I’ll try to be there. I feel good. New season. Nobody should think about last year. It’s a new season and I’ll try to do everything the best I can and let’s see how that works out. I’m in good shape, I” In good shape “.

How long Poligarvi’s leash will remain is known, but as general manager Ken Holland said in his pre-camp speech, things could change quickly. The Netherlands has made it clear that nothing will be handed over to Puljujarvi or anyone else because of their reputation or where they are recruited.

Oil makers are at a stage of their development where there is only room for people who produce. This is the era of Shut Up And Play.

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“I think (Puljujarvi) was frustrated with the way the year turned out and personally frustrated that he wasn’t able to provoke further insult,” Holland said. “I think he got frustrated because his role changed. The last half of the year was cut short drastically and in qualifying he was playing 10 minutes a night.”

But that’s life in the big leagues, especially in a good team.

“When you get those minutes and you don’t produce, the coaches make changes,” Holland said. “This is the process of playing in the NHL. We are trying to win.

“It’s an internal competition and you have to stick with your work. The way we’re going to be better and deeper is if people push. If you don’t stick to your piece of cake, you have to do something. You have to find out. Maybe meet the coaches and do whatever you have to do on the ice, away About ice, in the gym.You have to find a way to take back a bigger piece of the pie, to take on more responsibility.

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“This is how we are going to push this team to even greater heights.”

Puljujarvi has shown flashes that he may be on his way to becoming the player he and the organization want him to be – a smaller version of Hyman on the right side – but his lack of consistency and long dry patches hampered his progress and put his place here at risk.

He started strong last season, but his game slipped poorly (only 13 points in the last 36 games) and slipped on the depth chart.

Puljujarvi admits his confidence took a big hit and things went downhill from there. There has been some speculation that he wants to get out of Edmonton again, but he’s here in camp and hoping to make the most of it.

“Now we start everything over,” he said. “I’m going to try to fit in where I’m good and be the best player I can be. I just need to skate well, keep going, and help these good guys when I’m playing with them. When I’m in place to score, kick, top corner. Go to the blue paint. And be strong. I mean.”

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This time he hopes to get on the right side of things and head up and not fall apart.

“Try to be a more confident player,” he said. “I think confidence is a big thing in the NHL. You need confidence every day, every game, every game. I will try to be a strong player and play with good confidence. Those are big things.”

The best way for someone to regain their confidence is to train hard and play hard. By all accounts, this was Puljujarvi’s game plan.

With that as a basis, things usually work out.

“Confidence isn’t necessarily something to start with, it’s earned through a lot of hard work and effort,” Woodcroft said. Part of that is being in a position to succeed. Part of that is the work he did. I thought it looked really good in the captain’s skate boots (before camp).

“I see a very motivated player who has done a lot of work. He is keen to show what he can do. He put in his first day really well and now he has to make sure he builds on it.”

Twitter.com/rob_tychkowski

rtychkowski@postmedia.com

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