2 Bottom-Six Forwards Oilers Should Acquire in Puljujarvi Trade

The Edmonton Oilers want to upgrade their roster, which will cost them one of their players since the salary cap is in their way. So to make a trade, they will have to move someone with a somewhat significant cap hit. The name that keeps coming up with a large enough cap hit is Jesse Puljujarvi, who is said to need a change of scenery.

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The Oilers have seemingly been trying to showcase Puljujarvi by placing him on the top line alongside Connor McDavid, but that hasn’t increased his production. At this point, the organization is likely fine with clearing Puljujarvi’s cap space to get any sort of offensive production in his place.

Jesse Puljujarvi Edmonton Oilers
Jesse Puljujarvi, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

NHL Insider David Pagnotta joined NHL Now to discuss what Oilers general manager Ken Holland has been looking for, stating that “he’d love to shore up that bottom-six forward core to give them a little more depth, a little more physicality, and a little more scoring depth from a secondary perspective in this roster.”

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Edmonton has options in players that should be available by the trade deadline, though nothing is imminent, and a rental or someone with a year left on their deal would surely do the trick. More teams have started to become interested in players with one year left so that they can be used for more than one playoff run. Here’s a look at two bottom-six forwards the Oilers should be willing to swap for Puljujarvi this season.

Noel Acciari

The St. Louis Blues have been very streaky this season. They have played more bad hockey than good and should be sellers at the deadline if they don’t turn things around. Prized players like Ryan O’Reilly and Vladimir Tarasenko are, of course, those who many teams will have interest in, but the Oilers already have a great top-six and don’t have the cap space to target them.

Noel Acciari St. Louis Blues
Noel Acciari, St. Louis Blues (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Oilers should have their eye on Noel Acciari, who is quietly producing in the Blues’ bottom-six. He ranks fourth in goals on the team and is an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the season. His cap hit is also very attractive at just $1.25 million per season.

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If St. Louis decides to make significant changes before the deadline, Puljujarvi could find a home there. They have no superstars, and he could fit the style of play that head coach Craig Berube expects of his players. It’s unlikely they would bring Acciari back anyways, seeing as they can get something for him at the deadline.

Sam Lafferty

I mentioned rentals being a possibility, but Sam Lafferty is one of those players that would benefit the Oilers for more than one playoff run, and Elliotte Friedman has mentioned the Oilers might be interested in him. They are fighting for a playoff spot, but depth scoring and the penalty kill both need improvement. Their penalty kill has been on the rise, but Lafferty is a strong penalty killer who can also produce some offence. That is harder to come by and can swing momentum in the Oilers’ favour.

Sam Lafferty Chicago Blackhawks
Sam Lafferty, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Chicago Blackhawks are willing to listen to offers on any player, and the Oilers won’t have to give up a ton to acquire this bottom-six forward. He is having a career year offensively and is able to play all three positions. He is a UFA at the end of next season with a cap hit of just $1.15 million AAV. With three goals and eight points in 27 games on the season, he is more productive than Puljujarvi at a third of the cost. Lafferty will also hit and is good on the defensive side of the puck. He has 363 career hits in 167 games.

Why the Blackhawks would be interested in Puljujarvi is that he would be relied upon, and that could bring out a much better version of him. He’s spoken of the level he feels he has to play at with McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and is constantly being put in that role. With more responsibility and fewer expectations, Puljujarvi and the Blackhawks could benefit from him joining the team. He would be in his prime by the time they are ready to compete, or they could flip him once he finds his game again.

The Oilers’ offence can’t be left to just a few of the stars, and Puljujarvi hasn’t been able to be a part of the solution. His second and third chances are now done, and Holland is starting to get serious about upgrading his roster. Either Acciari or Lafferty would work great in my books, and there’s a good reason for both the Blues and Blackhawks to make the trade.