Two of the Edmonton Oilers’ recent first-round draft picks were sent down to the team’s American Hockey League affiliate on Saturday.
Late in the afternoon, the team tweeted that forwards Jesse Puljujarvi and Kailer Yamamoto had been assigned to the Bakersfield Condors.
While Yamamoto’s solid two-way play had been getting acknowledged by the coaches when speaking to the media, both he and Puljujarvi had been struggling to produce offence. Puljujarvi has only produced one goal in 11 games with the Oilers this season while Yamamoto hasn’t fared much better with just a goal and one assist in 12 games.
Watch below: On Oct. 4, 2017, Quinn Phillips filed this report about Kailer Yamamoto, who made the Edmonton Oilers team to start the 2017-18 NHL season.
The youngsters’ offensive troubles (both players are just 20 years old) come during a season in which coaches have been demanding more secondary scoring to complement captain Connor McDavid’s line. At the same time, the Oilers have been buoyed in recent weeks with scoring from Drake Caggiula and veteran forward Alex Chiasson.
Earlier on Saturday, Oilers coach Todd McLellan was asked about whether the team’s players are best served playing minimal minutes in the National Hockey League or given more prominent roles in the AHL specifically speaking about Puljujarvi.
“[I view him as having the] same arc as Yamo (Yamomoto) or Boosh (defenceman Evan Bouchard, who was sent back to the Ontario Hockey League earlier this season),” he told reporters. “Just because you’ve been in the league now for a few years doesn’t take you out of that.
“You’re still a young player and that’s the arc that he’s in.”
Puljujarvi and Yamomoto are both first-round draft picks. Puljujarvi was drafted fourth overall in 2016 by the team and Yamomoto was drafted 22nd overall by the Oilers in 2017,
The Oilers are currently mired in a three-game losing streak.
The Oilers host the Colorado Avalanche at Rogers Place on Sunday night.