Jesse Puljujarvi, the 19-year-old winger picked 4th overall in the 2016 NHL draft, has been called up the Edmonton Oilers.
With the team facing injury problems and scoring problems, fans who have clamoured for weeks to have Puljujarvi recalled from the American Hockey League finally got their wish on Friday.
It’s expected the big winger could slot in on the Oilers’ second line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic.
The team has struggled to score for much of the season, averaging 2.33 goals per game, the lowest rate in the league.
The power play, scoring at a rate of 13.3 per cent, could also use a boost.
The Oilers appeared reluctant this year to rush Puljujarvi’s development.
Before training camp started this season, general manager Peter Chiarelli said Puljujarvi was still adjusting to the North American game.
“He had a learning curve that he didn’t completely get to the top of,” Chiarelli told TSN’s Bob McKenize in September. “He’s the complete package and we’re going to be patient with him.”
But with the Oilers off to slow start at 6-8-1, and given recent injuries, the time when the team could exercise that kind of patience may have passed.
Wingers Drake Caggiula and Anton Slepyshev were both injured Tuesday in the Oilers’ 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils.
Forward Jujhar Khaira has played six games this year but hasn’t been in the lineup since Oct. 28.
The Oilers are also trying to string wins together. Two overtime victories in New York and New Jersey, the first back-to-back wins of season, have the team at 2-0 on their current four-game road trip.
Scoring punch needed
But in both games, the Oilers were held to two goals in regulation time, before Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl teamed for the winners in overtime.
The Oilers play Saturday afternoon against the New York Rangers and Sunday against the Washington Capitals.
Puljujarvi could give them some added scoring punch.
He has appeared in 10 games with the Bakersfield Condors this season, and has one goal and four assists.
His 31 shots on goal leads Bakersfield through the first 10 games of the season.
The Finnish right winger has accumulated 13 goals and 20 assists in 49 career AHL games over the past two seasons.
The 6’4″, 211-pound forward appeared in 28 career NHL games last season. He scored one goal and had seven assists.
The Oilers placed forward Anton Slepyshev on injured reserve Friday.