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BLOG: McLellan wants more confidence from Puljujarvi

Jussi Jokinen also commented on how he could help his young compatriot

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Jesse Puljujarvi - Edmonton's fourth-overall selection in the 2016 NHL Draft - got a look with the Oilers at the start of last season.

The Finn played 28 games with the big club in 2016-17, mustering one goal and seven assists, but was subsequently sent down to the American Hockey League's Bakersfield Condors in an effort to better acclimatize himself with the North American game.

Video: RAW | McLellan on Camp Day 1

This season, there's a sense of belief that Puljujarvi could get a longer look with the club and Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan says that will be dictated by his confidence level.

"I want to see a player that's a little more confident and feels like he belongs here," McLellan said Thursday on the first day of Oilers Training Camp. "(His) confidence level should be higher already. You can tell the language and the understanding and the comfort is higher than it was last year at this point."

As a Condor, the 19-year-old scored 12 goals and added 16 assists for 28 points in 39 outings - refining his game to make it more suitable for the style of play necessary to remain in the National Hockey League for good.

"Jesse is a very proud individual - he's very hard on himself," the Oilers bench boss continued. "There's no such thing as playing the perfect game, so he's got to understand that he's allowed to make some mistakes. He's allowed to error and it's not perfect all the time but you have to quickly recover from that and I think we'll see that once he gets a little more confident and ages a little bit."

Edmonton added forward Jussi Jokinen to the team when they signed him to a one-year deal in July and many projected the veteran to help Puljujarvi adjust. Jokinen mentioned that's not necessarily the case, although he is willing to assist if he can.

Video: RAW | Jokinen on Camp Day 1

"I feel I'm here 99 percent to help this team with my game and maybe that one percent to help Jesse," Jokinen said of his compatriot. "I think that's normal. When I was a young player coming into the League, I had Jere Lehtinen as my roommate and he helped me a lot but that's normal and how it goes: older players help younger players. 

"With Jesse, he's so young," Jokinen, who recorded 11 goals and 17 assists in 69 games with the Florida Panthers last season, said. "His language isn't perfect so I'm sure I can help him on the ice and off the ice to help him realize his potential and have a great year."

McLellan doubled down on that notion.

"I want Jussi and Jesse to both establish their own games," he said. "I don't want Jussi coming in and thinking that his job is to take care of Puljujarvi and to make sure that he's coming along. You've got to have your own game established first and then you can broaden it out to leadership and guidance and that type of stuff. Jussi is coming to a new organization, to new teammates, new coaches.

"I told him yesterday that I want him to focus on his game to begin with and then maybe once it gets established we can broaden that to helping Jesse out."

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