When it comes to disgruntled forward Jesse Puljujärvi, recent news suggests his relationship with the Edmonton Oilers might not be all that disgruntled.
Certainly, the team and the player aren’t at a point where a return to the Oilers is a given. Still, recent talks between the former fourth-overall pick in 2016 and the Oilers management and coaching team suggest things are looking up; that is, if you consider looking up the reality that Puljujärvi hasn’t ruled out a return.
Puljujärvi Confirms Recent Oilers Talks
There were reports that surfaced last week that Oilers GM Ken Holland had been speaking with Puljujärvi. According to Bob Stauffer, Holland has been in contact with his agent, Markus Lehto and this week, Puljujärvi did confirm he was part of those talks.
Iltalehti.fi is covering the story (translation required) and while Puljujärvi notes that his top choice would be to re-sign with Kärpät and stay in Finland next season, it sounds like “top choice” means more likely, and not necessarily preferable.
Puljujärvi hasn’t ruled out a return to the NHL and said, “The NHL has been my goal.” That could explain the recent talks and conference calls that could be discussing what a Puljujärvi return might look like.
How Have Those Talks Been Going?
In the past, word has trickled down that Puljujärvi would not consider a return to Oilers’ organization and would instead prefer a trade. The Oilers were open to a deal, but the return had to be right. As things never came to fruition, the player moved farther and farther from the Oiler frame of mind.
Things aren’t quite what they used to be and Puljujärvi notes, “the matter is no longer so black and white.”
This ‘trade me or nothing’ attitude has changed as both Puljujärvi and his agent are dealing with coach Dave Tippett and general manager Ken Holland now. At the very least, that seems to be making a difference. Puljujärvi hinted the talks were much more positive than they’d been in the past. It was a good and constructive conference call.” Puljujärvi said. He added that he left the call feeling positive but said, “However, I will not go into the details.”
How Likely is a Return to the Oilers?
Other than to say things are looking up, there’s no new information that would suggest Puljujärvi signing with the Oilers is imminent. What he did say was a line fans have heard before. “You can never say no,” he noted when asked if he would return.
The good news here is that he’s admitted to growing and seeing things differently. “There’s now a different GM and head coach out there. Build a winning team in Edmonton. It may be possible that I will still be playing there.” Puljujärvi admits.
Puljujärvi Does Have Options
As a restricted free agent, the Oilers still own Puljujärvi’s rights, but the Oilers aren’t the only team looking to see if he’ll join them for next season. The winger does want to come back to the NHL, but there is an offer on the table from a large Swiss club (Bern) who has been coveting Puljujärvi.
There is also an offer out there for him with Torpedo Niznhi – Novgorod of the KHL. That said, Puljujärvi was quite clear about the KHL as an option when he said, “I’m not going there next season.”
Whatever it is Puljujärvi does decide to do, he did hint that a decision would be coming quickly. “The time for solutions is in the coming days . Or in the coming weeks,” Puljujärvi said. The author of the post seemed to hint the player’s ton was mysterious, as if to say a decision might be right around the corner and this would be something to watch closely.
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Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”