The Bakersfield Condors just got a lot better as they head into the opening of the American Hockey League season on Friday.
The Edmonton Oilers assigned right wing Jesse Puljujarvi to the Condors on Sunday and waived veteran defenseman Mark Fayne with the intention of assigning him to the Condors.
The big news here is Puljujarvi.
The fourth overall pick of the 2106 NHL Entry Draft played 28 games with the Oilers early last season before being sent down to the Condors where he put up 28 points in 39 games. That as an 18-year old in his first season of North American Hockey.
Many expected Puljujarvi, now 19, to stick with the Oilers this season but he was not as impressive aa Kailer Yamamoto, who Edmonton selected 22nd overall in this year’s draft.
Yamamoto, who just turned 19 on Friday, had five preseason goals and has looked strong paired with various top-six players for the Oilers. It appears he will at least start the season with the Oilers.
Puljujarvi, who turned 19 in May, had a goal and two assists in five preseason games.
Various pundits have weighed in on Puljujarvi for months, some feeling he would best be served by staying in the NHL and gaining experience there even if in a limited role and others believing that logging lots of time in Bakersfield at the AHL level is far more beneficial at this point of his career.
The Oilers clearly believe the best thing for Puljujarvi is being in Bakersfield.
At least for now.
Fayne’s move was expected. He played 39 games with the Condors last season (17 points) and just four with the Oilers, by far the fewest NHL games in a season for the eighth-year pro entering the final year of a contract that will pay him $3.5 million this season.
The Condors open the AHL season in Stockton on Friday against the Heat. Bakersfield opens at home on Oct. 12 against San Antonio.