Oilers’ Ideal Return in Trade of Jesse Puljujarvi

Multiple sources around the Edmonton Oilers feel the time has come with Jesse Puljujarvi and the team. Both sides gave it two shots and even different management and linemates couldn’t turn things around. Things sometimes just play out this way as a change in scenery is needed for some players.

This time around, it’s not just one side or the other wanting a change, the Oilers now have themselves part of a solution to a larger contract problem if they can move Puljujarvi, and it doesn’t appear as if he has any objections to starting fresh somewhere else. Tom Gazzola of TSN reported his thoughts on the situation while on the Puljujarvi Episode of The Oil Stream, saying, “I would be very surprised if he ends up in an Oilers uniform next year. The topic of a fresh start is coming up again. And it’s not the Oilers just saying, ‘We’re done with Jesse Puljujarvi.’ I think there’s kind of a mutual understanding there that both sides are OK with moving on… It’s not, ‘Hey, they need him to play with skilled players.’ It just feels like it’s time to move on and everybody kind of agrees.”

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

Fans have seen it around the league many times, players change teams and pop off. But this situation is a bit different as Puljujarvi has been given every opportunity to succeed beside the likes of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. If it’s an opportunity or personnel issue, then there’s no better players to line-up beside. However, it may go deeper in that his teammates don’t trust him anymore to score. Marc Spector of Sportsnet says he is deemed as a play killer in the dressing room of the Oilers, and with how heavy the team leans on their offence, that can’t be happening. Players must also trust each other and there can’t be any issues if a team wants to win. So, it seems as if it’s time for a change for both sides.

Oilers Can Make Best of Situation

It may not be the worst thing in the world that a fan favourite is going to be traded, as it creates cap space and opportunity for the Oilers to make moves that will help them win. Since Puljujarvi has emerged as the player the Oilers are going to sacrifice, that means they can turn their attention to re-signing Kailer Yamamoto, Ryan McLeod, and hopefully Evander Kane along with the other needs they must address this offseason to stay contenders. Jim Parson of The Hockey Writers also suggests that the Oilers will extend a qualifying offer to Puljujarvi, which is generally inexpensive, to then focus on teams that are interested in acquiring him.

Related: Oilers’ 5 Possible Trade Destinations for Jesse Puljujarvi

The Oilers also won’t get a return of nothing for Puljuajrvi, as there is interest out there. Whether that is a draft pick or a player in a similar spot, they will hopefully find themselves with a different result in the end than the Jordan Eberle trade tree.

Should the Oilers Be Looking For a Player in Return?

The Oilers should definitely be looking for a player in return for Puljujarvi, and there appears to be more than one interested team with one to offer who has a similar value and may also need a change in scenery. Some names that come to mind are Lawson Crouse, Kirby Dach, Connor Brown, Martin Necas, and Alexandar Georgiev. Whether the Oilers need to add a little bit extra to the deal in a mid- or late-round draft pick, it’s still worth it as it would still help more than acquiring just a draft pick.

As Jason Gregor points out, the Oilers should be looking for a player in return considering another one to two depth forwards also appear to be on their way out via trades to free up cap space and the Oilers are intent on competing next season. Any of who I mentioned above would fit great in a middle-six role for the Oilers and Georgiev is an interesting option for them in net as a possible cheaper backup plan to what they should be looking to make (a big splash).

What the Oilers Would Be Able to Do With a Draft Pick

Though a draft pick isn’t ideal, a second-round pick appears to be the likely return for Puljujarvi. There would be a low chance the Oilers would be using the pick they received even though they don’t own a second-round pick this season. Instead, it could easily be used as a trade chip to acquire the necessary players or move the necessary players before next season.

Whether it be to acquire a goaltender via trade (most likely) or to polish off the forwards or defence, which is still possible, the Oilers are in win-now mode and can’t be stockpiling assets for the future. An interested team may not want to let go of a player, so it is still fair to assume they wouldn’t mind sending away a pick if they too are trying to win sooner than later.

It was an interesting ride for Puljujarvi and the Oilers, which is coming quickly to an end. As long as the Oilers don’t lose big in a trade of their former fourth-overall pick, many people will be alright with a trade since it should help in other areas of the team.

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