When news broke on Wednesday that forward Jesse Puljujarvi was officially asking to be traded out of Edmonton, new GM Ken Holland was asked to jump his first hurdle as the man who is supposed to restructure the Edmonton Oilers.
No one said this job was going to be easy. If it was, Holland probably wouldn’t have been the choice in the first place. But, as the situation grows more tenuous between Puljujarvi, his agent Markus Lehto and the Oilers, it feels right that Holland is the man in charge.
Holland’s Immediate Response
When asked by a number of media outlets to comment on the news Puljujarvi wanted out, specifically with Oilers Now host Bob Stauffer, Holland didn’t waste time sending a clear message.
Instead of towing a political line, Holland wasn’t rude, he wasn’t avoiding the question, he simply stated, “I’m not trading anybody because they want to be traded. But if we can find something that works for everybody, I’ll look at it. If not, I’m not doing anything.”
When he spoke with Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, it was much of the same. “I’m not giving a player away because they’re unhappy. No way. If I trade any player I have to get fair value or I’m not doing it. I’m not trading a player to get him out of my hair.”
The Response Wasn’t All That Immediate
While we’re calling this Holland’s initial reaction, the reality is, he’s had time to prepare whatever it was he planned to tell the media. Lehto had actually relayed the message from his client several weeks ago that Puljujarvi would like to be traded. Holland has known for a while.
Holland just wasn’t really prepared to make that information public if he didn’t have to. When Puljujarvi’s side went ahead and did so, Holland was forced — or perhaps a better term is, prepared — to respond.
You see, Holland has been here before. A similar situation occurred in Detroit where Andreas Athanasiou made it clear he wanted a change of scenery in 2017. Holland not only worked things out with the forward but signed him to two more contracts.
Holland’s Plan for Puljujarvi
Will Holland trade Puljujarvi right away? Maybe, if the deal is there that best suits the Oilers. What’s more likely is that Puljujarvi is forced to stick it out and Holland calls his “I’m going to Europe” bluff.
Puljujarvi may head overseas to play. That isn’t where he wants to be. And, because Holland isn’t prepared to give Puljujarvi away for a low-end draft pick or a failed prospect just to move him, the ball is in Puljuarvi’s court.
Either he signs, plays well and ups his value or he leaves as Athanasiou did only to come back.
There’s not much of a market for Puljujarvi and Holland is aware of it. He’s also not part of the former Oilers management group that made hasty trades to rid themselves of a problem.
Related: Ducks Buy Out Corey Perry’s Contract
Something Out There Holland Can Work With?
According to Jim Matheson:
Obviously, Winnipeg and Carolina come to mind as possible destinations in trades because he played with Patrik Laine and Sebastian Aho in junior but the ‘Canes have little to give up at forward and the Jets might take Puljujarvi but only in a package.Source – ‘Jesse Puljujarvi wants out of Edmonton, but Oilers GM Ken Holland won’t be forced into a deal’ – Jim Matheson – Edmonton Journal – 06/20/2019
What’s interesting is that in the same breath, Matheson mentioned Corey Perry formerly of the Anaheim Ducks. He suggests the Oilers might be interested but only at $1.5 million or less.
That then begs the question if the Oilers could move Puljujarvi for something other than a forward and then replace him with someone like a Perry on the short-term?