Jesse Puljujarvi and Holland’s Next 24 Hours

Ken Holland has just over 24 hours to sign or trade Jesse Puljujarvi. While Holland has said the door is open for the disgruntled winger to return, signing the Finnish forward doesn’t seem likely. That only leaves a trade and the Edmonton Oilers would need to conduct one in the next day if there’s any chance the former fourth-overall pick plays in the NHL this season.

Holland spoke with Daniel Nugent-Bowman of The Athletic and discussed what is likely to happen before the critical December 1, 2019 deadline. When asked if Holland feels pressure to make a move before Sunday, the simple response was, “I don’t.”

Does a Trade Help the Oilers Today?

If the Oilers were to successfully move Puljujarvi before Sunday comes and goes, it would help the team when you consider what Holland is asking for in return. While he might be convinced to swing a deal if the right prospect is thrown into the mix, Holland wants something that will help the team right away.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

He explained:

Something young. It’s gotta be young. I’m not looking to trade him for somebody who’s old. It’s gotta be young player for young player – or maybe younger player/prospect, pick. 

source -‘One-on-one with Ken Holland, who is facing his first deadline in the Jesse Puljujarvi saga’ – Daniel Nugent-Bowman – The Athletic – 11/28/2019

That young player would potentially be inserted into the Oilers lineup almost immediately in the hopes that he would gel with the Oilers and the team would continue to see success in the 2019-20 regular season. So far, that offer isn’t out there.

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This is No Time To Panic

Should Holland feel the need to make a move just for the sake of getting a deal done, there’s a better-than-good chance he does a deal that isn’t best for the Oilers. “You can’t force anything,” he said. Based upon his vast experience in the NHL, it’s safe to assume he’s seen other teams and general managers make that mistake.

Edmonton Oilers Jesse Puljujarvi Buffalo Sabres Vladimir Sobotka
Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi and Buffalo Sabres forward Vladimir Sobotka (Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports)

Holland knows better. He explained:

“I’ve made big trades at the trade deadline and it’s fizzled. And I’ve made little moves or done nothing, and the team has played good. If a deal is there, a deal is there. I know what I’m looking for. So, if a deal’s not there, it’s not there.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland
Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

This is easily the right approach to take if you’re Holland. Simply put, Puljujarvi playing in Finland isn’t hurting the Oilers — other than the fact that it might be nice to have some additional offense on the Oilers second line. But, as Puljujarvi finds success in Finland, his confidence grows. So too, time might heal whatever wounds Puljujarvi feels still exist and if that doesn’t happen, Edmonton can make a deal at the NHL Entry Draft where other GM’s are feeling the pinch. That puts Holland in the driver’s seat.

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The Oilers Have the Leverage

If Edmonton weren’t playing well, things might be different. But, at second place in the Western Conference and first in the Pacific Division, the Oilers can afford to be patient.

As Holland told Nugent-Bowman, he knows only three things can happen. Either Puljujarvi secretly wants to play in the NHL and he blinks, the Oilers trade him for the right deal, or the player stays in Europe. Win, win, win.

That said, there is one more scenario where the Oilers come out ahead. Holland will use the next 24 hours to continually see what’s out there. “If there were pieces being offered that I think we could put into our lineup – that are gonna make a difference – we’d be having a press conference right now,” he said. The hidden meaning behind that has to be that should another team feel the crunch over the next 24 hours, and far more heavily than the Oilers do, Holland will pounce.

In the end, the Oilers GM is willing to make a move, he just hasn’t been offered a package that has convinced him to pull the trigger yet. Could that change in one day? Stranger things have happened.

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