Oilers News and Rumors: Puljujarvi, Athanasiou, Kassian, More

In an Edmonton Oilers news and rumors update, there is news regarding Jesse Puljujarvi’s status with the team, questions about whether or not the Oilers would have interest in Andreas Athanasiou, and what it might cost to keep Zack Kassian around. Finally, what does November look like for the team after a better-than-expected October?

Holland to Visit With Puljujarvi

There have been a few nuggets thrown out there in the rumor mill lately when it comes to the Edmonton Oilers and the likelihood Jesse Puljuarvi ever dresses again for the organization.

According to Mark Spector of Sportsnet, general manager Ken Holland will travel to Helsinki, Finland for the Karjala Cup this week to check in on the disgruntled restricted free agent. While he’s not the leading scorer on the Karpat team, Puljujarvi is playing well and has scored 11 goals so far in just 17 games.

Ivan Provorov, Jesse Puljujarvi
Edmonton Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi, and Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Matt Slocum)

Spector writes however, leaving him in Finland all season may be the best option for the Oilers at this point. That whatever they talk about, Holland may not be trying to find out if he’s ready to come back.

Meanwhile, Brian Lawton was a guest on Oilers Now with Bob Stauffer and was asked if he would move Puljujarvi. Lawton said, “My first thought would be to be patient.” He added:

“He’s still part of the Edmonton Oilers, regardless of how he feels and there’s nothing to say that couldn’t be repaired in the future. He could come back and be a meaningful player for Edmonton.”

Stauffer noted all the things that happened between Puljujarvi, his agent and the Oilers, but Lawton said he would be surprised if Holland didn’t go over there and just be himself, which is one of the hardest-working executives in the NHL. There’s no animosity between Jesse and Ken, they’ve never worked together. Their respective positions doesn’t mean he’ll be traded.

Related: Oilers News and Rumors: Puljujarvi, Nurse, McDavid, More

Oilers Eyeing Athanasiou?

Elliotte Friedman noted in his latest 31 Thoughts article that while he’s not heard Athanasious’ name out there in trade rumors, the forward is ranked No. 8 on TSN’s latest Trade Bait Board and Friedman noted that as the forward continues not to score, the Red Wings might grow impatient. That they waived Jonathan Ericsson proves they aren’t allowing players to struggle during a rebuild.

Andreas Athanasiou Red Wings
Andreas Athanasiou, Detroit Red Wings, December 20, 2017 (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

In a contract year, Athanasiou is an affordable forward for the Oilers at a pro-rated $3 million for the rest of the season and he’s got speed to burn. If a trade were there, it probably wouldn’t happen until later in the season but Holland saw how dangerous Athanasiou was when the Red Wings defeated the Oilers on Tuesday. He’ll likely keep his eyes on the forward and knows him well from his time as the GM in Detroit.

Other Names Emerging as Options?

According to Allan Mitchell of The Athletic, other names worth keeping an eye on are righty centre Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mathieu Perreault, Mark Jankowski and Jack Roslovic.

He writes:

Considering all things, Jankowski is the most attractive option. He brings size, some skill and utility. He has had NHL success and now is an odd man out …Calgary is a successful team but isn’t immune to making errors in player evaluation. Perhaps the team is making another mistake.

source – ‘Oilers in need of a two-way centre; some candidates emerging’ Allan Mitchell – The Athletic – 10/30/2019

Related: The Grind Line: What’s Missing in the Red Wings Rebuild?

How Much Will Zack Kassian Cost?

Jonathan Willis of The Athletic took a look at what it might cost for the Oilers to keep forward Zack Kassian on an extension. Playing in the final year of a contract season, Kassian is making $1.95 million this season. Willis suggests keeping Kassian around, even if his results are coming from playing almost exclusively with Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid.

Zack Kassian Edmonton Oilers
Zack Kassian, Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Willis writes:

On the whole, this decision with Kassian looks a lot like the one the Oilers faced with Chiasson last season, and frankly, he’s a better candidate for a contract. Even if Edmonton ultimately splits up McDavid and Draisaitl, there’s a reasonable chance that Kassian can play a middle-six role with a good centre and deliver on a $2.25- or $2.50-million cap hit, especially if the risk is limited to a two-year term.

source – ‘Willis: How much will the Oilers have to pay to keep pending free agent Zack Kassian?’ – Jonathan Willis – The Athletic – 10/31.2019

Related: NHL Rumors: Bruins, Blues, Red Wings, Oilers, More

Oilers Expecations For November

After a fantastic month of October that sees the Oilers sitting fourth in the NHL standings and first in the Western Conference, what are the expectations for November?

Edmonton Oilers celebrate
Edmonton Oilers celebrate (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)

The Oilers play 14 games — half of which are against non-playoff teams from last season. So too, many of the teams Edmonton will face in November aren’t ranked in the top 10 standings so far this year.

The real question will be whether or not the bottom-six forwards can start to contribute and if McDavid, Draisaitl and James Neal may take a step backward.

Related: NHL Rumor Shootdown: Oilers Could Go Nuclear on Roster