The Oilers made changes to their bottom six line combinations following their 5-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils in Sweden. Centerman Kyle Brodziak became a healthy scratch. And Zack Kassian and Tobias Rieder, his two wingers from the first game, moved up to play with centerman Ryan Strome. That pushed Jujhar Khaira and Jesse Puljujärvi, Strome’s two most common linemates from preseason, down to the fourth line to play with Drake Caggiula.
The Puljujärvi demotion was the most controversial and for good reason. He’s a good prospect with plenty of ability that the Oilers need to be a productive winger going forward. And it’s hard to take a step in your individual professional development when you’re playing fewer minutes and with lesser talent. Worth noting that Puljujärvi had a strong preseason as well, scoring four goals in five games and was much more assertive in his overall play. Demoting him this quickly might be a strategic move by the coaching staff, but it’s hard to envision how this will help the Oilers win hockey games.
Now while the Puljuarvi demotion garners the most attention from fans and media, it’s moving Jujhar Khaira to the fourth line center position that should be raising red flags.
Full article is at The Copper & Blue.