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'He's doing lots of good stuff': Woodcroft supporting Puljujarvi through 15-game scoring slump


It's been more than a month since Jesse Puljujarvi has scored for the Edmonton Oilers.

The 24-year-old, 2016 fourth-overall draft pick, has gone 15 games since finding the back of the net Oct. 26 against the St. Louis Blues.

Still, his head coach defended the big Finnish winger Tuesday when he was asked by a reporter about how Puljujarvi "can't score a goal."

"You don't just measure yourself in terms of what your offensive output is," Jay Woodcroft said.

"We have confidence in him, we have confidence to play him with good players. He was on the ice in the last minute of play yesterday. He went hard to the net, it lead to a scoring chance for Hyman. I think he's doing lots of good stuff."

Puljujarvi has recorded four assists in those 15 games. But after scoring 14 last year and 15 the year before, he is on pace for just four goals this year.

"Well, I think you worry when you don't find yourself in scoring chances. I think you earn the right to feel confident by rehearsing different moments that you find yourself in on the ice, you do that in practice," Woodcroft said.

The Oilers could use some goals from any forward not named Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Zach Hyman or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. On Wednesday night in Chicago, every other forward Edmonton is expected to dress has scored two or less this season.

The need for Puljujarvi goals has become even more dire with injuries to Evander Kane and fellow depth scorers Kailer Yamamoto, Warren Foegele and Ryan McLeod.

Puljujarvi said last week that he was feeling good on a third line with McLeod and Klim Kostin.

"I think we have a good line there and try to be hard to play against and, of course, try to make some plays and maybe score too," he said.

Puljujarvi was expected to play Wednesday with Nugent-Hopkins and Mattias Janmark on a second line.

He's also played some with McDavid and Draisaitl this season but has struggled to break through offensively, even when paired with two of the top scorers in the league.

"Puljujarvi is a streaky scorer, so chances are if he scores one, he'll score four…He's a complementary scorer right now who is not scoring enough," said Allan Mitchell, AKA Lowetide, from TSN 1260 and The Athletic.

Mitchell acknowledged that Puljujarvi hasn't met the scoring expectations of some after he was a high draft pick. The radio host sees him as a 12-15-goal-a-season player who is good defensively.

He also pointed out that Puljujarvi often ranks high in advanced stats. Still, he doesn't see the winger staying with the Oilers longterm.

"At the end of this year, he's making $3 million on this contract. I'm sure the expectation is that it'll be $4 or $4.5 million, and I just don't think the Oilers will go there. I think they'll trade him and people will be disappointed with the return, is my guess."

Edmonton local Tyler Benson is expected to play his first game of the year against the Blackhawks. Bantam teammates James Hamblin and Stuart Skinner were also in the lineup for the morning skate.

The Oilers (12-10) play in Chicago (6-11-4) Wednesday and the puck drops shortly after 7:30 p.m. Top Stories

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