The future for Jesse Puljujarvi was hardly certain. This was before the news on Wednesday that he has informed the Edmonton Oilers he would like to be traded.
According to multiple reports, including ones from TSN’s Darren Dreger and Ryan Rishaug, Puljujarvi has made it clear he wants out.
Speculation is the Oilers are willing to accommodate and new GM Ken Holland has said multiple times in interviews, he has no desire to keep players who do not want to be part of the team. A trade is expected and, if the return is there, could likely happen as early as this Friday at the NHL Entry Draft.
What’s On Puljujarvi’s Mind
It’s been stated that Puljujarvi has no desire to leave the NHL. There was earlier speculation that he might look to go overseas but he still very much wants a shot to prove himself in the greatest hockey league in the world. He just feels like he hasn’t gotten that shot in Edmonton.
Unfortunately, with new coach Dave Tippett ready to take over the team, fans in Edmonton may never know what Puljujarvi could have done with a different leader and voice behind the Oilers bench. It seems Puljujarvi isn’t willing to wait and see.
It’s hard to blame Puljujarvi. Under coaches like Todd McClellan and Ken Hitchcock, he didn’t get the best of linemates. He didn’t get a great opportunity in the top six. He didn’t get power play, great offensive zone start times and a chance to excel alongside players like Connor McDavid or Leon Draistaitl.
Almost everyone else got that opportunity.
The Oilers Need to Move On
From an Oilers perspective, there’s also an argument to be made that Puljujarvi didn’t earn those opportunities or figure out the NHL game in time. A player with what most expected to be a very high ceiling, he’s taken much longer to get acquainted with the NHL than anyone would have ever expected.
It’s been disappointing for Oilers fans and management who were counting on him to be a big part of the team’s offense as they grew into playoff contenders. He’s not contributed as he should have. And for once, the Oilers have been patient.
The question now is, can the Oilers get enough out of a trade for Puljujarvi? Is there a team willing to take a chance on the forward? Alternatively, is it possible the Oilers can move an unwanted contract in any deal involving the 21-year-old?
Timing is Everything for Oilers
As Mark Spector and others have noted, the Oilers should not be in a hurry to move Puljujarvi despite the news he wants to find a new place to call home.
Ken Holland has to know the Finn’s value is exceptionally low, and while some of this is on mismanagement, not all of it is. Edmonton doesn’t owe Puljujarvi any favors and perhaps the best situation would be to have him play the start of the season, produce and increase his value if a trade that won’t be a win for the Oilers can’t be found this week.
In short, force the player to deliver, see if he changes his mind and if not, move him then.
If the Oilers are destined to move him right away, the key will be to remember, Puljujarvi is a 4th overall pick and still very young. He’s not Nail Yakupov yet where teams know he might not be NHL material. Puljuarvi could still produce for an NHL club. The Oilers need to find a GM willing to believe that’s the case.