SUN Hockey Pool

Jussi auditions for backup job

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:03 AM ET

ST. LOUIS -- It's usually a cliche when people talk about players on a losing team playing for jobs next year.

In this day and age, NHL jobs are determined by existing contracts, first, and then what you did in a brief audition at the tail end of the previous season.

In Jussi Markkanen's case, however, he doesn't have a contract for next year. And whether he gets one or not could well be determined by how he does in the tail end of this season.

In other words, he really is playing for a job next year.

"It's an important time for him," said head coach Craig MacTavish, who wants to start Markkanen in three of Edmonton's last five games, including tonight in St. Louis. "It's hard not to go with Roli (Dwayne Roloson) with how well he's playing, but there's a bigger picture here right now. The organization has to make an assessment on Jussi, based on getting some consistent starts. He's going to have to come in and play well."

Having finally secured their own farm team, the Oilers could do prospect netminder Jeff Deslauriers a world of good by giving him 65 starts in the AHL. He'd benefit more from that than from 12 or 15 starts in the NHL, if he's even ready to be a backup next year. So Edmonton will need a caddy for Roloson.

Markkanen has the right temperament, but a 3.10 GAA, .884 save percentage and five wins in 12 decisions is reason enough for pause on the Oilers' part.

Markkanen is just happy to be seeing some action, regardless of the circumstances.

He says he'll worry about next year next year.

"I like the guys, I like the city. I like everything but sitting on the bench."


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