Jesse Puljujarvi flashed his trademark, mega-watt smile as he declared himself ready to play again.
“I’m feeling good. I’m excited to be back,” he said. “It feels like a new season is starting. It’s nice to be back.”
After missing the previous 11 games with a lower-body injury, Puljujarvi rejoins an Oilers team making a playoff push.
Puljujarvi suiting up against the Sabres augments Edmonton’s top six. He’s expected to play alongside Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman, bumping out rookie Ryan McLeod.
“Jesse’s a top-six player. We want to get him up and running,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “That has the makings of a good line, a big, hard, heavy, cycle-driven line.
“I just want him to be himself and play towards his strengths. There’s no undue pressure on him.”
Though Puljujarvi’s production has been inconsistent this season, the Oilers are getting back a bona fide five-on-five contributor and another net-front option on the power play. With Kris Russell also returning from a shoulder/neck issue and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (upper body) hopeful to return by month’s end, the Oilers could be returning to full health at the right time.