This week’s swap of first-round prospects — Alex Nylander to Chicago and Henri Jokiharju to Buffalo — has fuelled speculation for a Jesse Puljujarvi trade and Oilers Nation is spitballing all kinds of possibilities.
Scouring the rosters and prospect pools of Edmonton’s 30 potential dance partners — including division rivals — there are no fewer than 135 players that Ken Holland could be targeting in return, or that other teams could be offering for Puljujarvi.
This deal can definitely get done in the days to come, long before training camp arrives or Puljujarvi has to make a decision about playing in Europe instead of reporting back to Edmonton.
Here is a big list of potential trade targets — ranked by team, in order of likelihood — followed by a top 10 that make the most sense to this author from an Oilers’ perspective:
This is a prime landing spot for Puljujarvi and certainly his preference, to be reunited with Sebastian Aho. In return, the Oilers could be asking for:
1) Julien Gauthier — 2016 first-rounder, 21st overall, powerful goal-scoring winger
2) Erik Haula — 28-year-old third-line centre, making $2.75 million in final season before UFA
3) Morgan Geekie — 2017 third-rounder, 67th overall, 6-foot-2 right-handed potential third-line centre coming off strong pro debut with AHL champion Charlotte
4) Janne Kuokkanen — 2016 second-rounder, 43rd overall, left-winger should be NHL-ready but Carolina would need to add a draft pick of which the Hurricanes have plenty, likely including two in each of the first three rounds for 2020
Tampa Bay Lightning
This is another popular destination for Puljujarvi in the rumour mill, with a handful of players that could be of interest to Edmonton:
1) Taylor Raddysh — 2016 second-rounder, 58th overall, goal-scoring winger and former junior teammate of Connor McDavid with OHL Erie
2) Mitchell Stephens — 2015 second-rounder, 33rd overall, a pick that was part of the Griffin Reinhart package, right-handed potential third-line centre
3) Mathieu Joseph — 2015 fourth-rounder, 120th overall, power winger debuted with 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 70 games in 2018-19
4) Anthony Cirelli — 2015 third-rounder, 72nd overall, third-line centre with 50 points (24 goals, 26 assists) in 100 career regular-season games, including 19 goals and 39 points in 2018-19, may be valued higher than Puljujarvi thus lower on this list
5) Adam Erne — 2013 second-rounder, 33rd overall, with 27 points (13 goals, 14 assists) in 114 career regular-season games, but Lightning would need to add a second- or third-rounder in 2020
Hall-of-Fame scribe Jim Matheson has been connecting the dots here and for good reason:
1) Joel Eriksson Ek — 2015 first-rounder, 20th overall, reportedly would have been Edmonton’s selection at 16th overall that year if the pick hadn’t been traded for Griffin Reinhart (with the Islanders taking Matt Barzal), third-line centre with 37 career points (16 goals, 21 assists) in 148 regular-season games, same point total as Puljujarvi (17 goals, 20 assists) in 139 games
2) Kirill Kaprizov — 2015 fifth-rounder, 135th overall, skilled winger considered one of the best players outside the NHL but Minnesota struggling to sign him from KHL
3) Jordan Greenway — 2015 second-rounder, 50th overall, 6-foot-6 power winger with 25 points (12 goals, 13 assists) in 87 career regular-season games
4) Luke Kunin — 2016 first-rounder, 15th overall, right-handed potential third-line centre with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 68 career regular-season games
5) Jason Zucker — $5.5 million for four more seasons, clearly on trade block and a good fit for Edmonton but Minnesota would need to retain salary
Not much chatter about Colorado, but Joe Sakic could like the idea of Puljujarvi learning from Mikko Rantanen. Edmonton could certainly like a couple of these players:
1) Tyson Jost — 2016 first-rounder, 10th overall, middle-six forward can play centre, has produced 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in 141 career regular-season games, grew up in Edmonton area
2) J.T. Compher — 2013 second-rounder, 35th overall, for Buffalo, 24-year-old right-handed third-line centre with 60 points (32 goals, 28 assists) in 156 career regular-season games, coming off 16-goal, 32-point campaign in 66 games, current RFA
3) Shane Bowers — 2017 first-rounder, 28th overall for Ottawa, potential third-line centre turning pro after two strong NCAA seasons
4) Martin Kaut — 2018 first-rounder, 16th overall, right-winger turns 20 in October, coming off decent AHL debut as teenager with 12 goals and 26 points in 63 games
This would present another reunion for Puljujarvi, with Patrik Laine. Winnipeg also has a player who wants out that could be a fit for Edmonton:
1) Jack Roslovic — 2015 first-rounder, 25th overall, right-handed third-line centre with 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in 109 career regular-season games, reportedly requested a trade multiple times during 2018-19 due to limited opportunity in Winnipeg
2) Kristian Vesalainen — 2017 first-rounder, 24th overall, 6-foot-3 left-winger that can score but plays 200-foot game
3) Jansen Harkins — 2015 second-rounder, 47th overall, potential third-line centre made significant strides in AHL in 2018-19 but Winnipeg would need to add a 2020 second-round pick
A few players here that should be on Ken Holland’s short-list, but is there mutual interest? Does Nashville like Puljujarvi? That’s the question. If the answer is yes, then a deal could come to fruition.
1) Calle Jarnkrok — right-handed third-line centre turning 28 in September, making $2 million for three more seasons on team-friendly contract, 2010 second-rounder, 51st overall, for Holland in Detroit thus familiarity with player
2) Colton Sissons — right-handed third-line centre turning 26 in November, current RFA filed for arbitration, only made $625,000 last season but due for a big raise after netting 15 goals and 30 points in 2018-19, entering prime as 2012 second-rounder, 50th overall
3) Eeli Tolvanen — 2017 first-rounder, 30th overall, scoring winger struggled in AHL after lighting it up in KHL
New Jersey Devils
There is an obvious fit here too, again if the interest is mutual.
1) Pavel Zacha — 2015 first-rounder, sixth overall, third-line centre with 76 points (29 goals, 47 assists) in 201 career regular-season games, netted 13 goals and 25 points in 61 games in 2018-19
2) Michael McLeod — 2016 first-rounder, 12th overall, right-handed potential third-line centre, older brother of Oilers prospect Ryan McLeod, similar players
3) Joey Anderson — 2016 third-rounder, 73rd overall, looking like quality middle-six winger and character guy
4) Nathan Bastian — 2016 second-rounder, 41st overall, 6-foot-4 right-winger scored three goals in seven games during first NHL stint in 2018-19
5) Jesper Boqvist — 2017 second-rounder, 36th overall, skilled winger coming overseas for 2019-20 after strong 2018-19 season in Sweden, Holland could be a fan
6) Aarne Talvitie — overachieving as 2017 sixth-rounder, 160th overall, potential third-line centre captained Finland to gold at this year’s World Juniors
The highest-ranking division rival has a couple legitimate targets.
1) Christian Fischer — 2015 second-rounder, 32nd overall, powerful scoring winger with 54 points (29 goals, 25 assists) in 157 career regular-season games, but healthy scratch down the stretch in 2018-19
2) Christian Dvorak — 2014 second-rounder, 58th overall, third-line centre missed most of 2018-19 with torn pectoral muscle but produced 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 2017-18 and 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) as a rookie in 2016-17, totalling 77 points (32 goals, 45 assists) in 176 career regular-season games
3) Lawson Crouse — 2015 first-rounder, 11th overall, for Florida, another power winger with 38 points (17 goals, 21 assists) in 164 career regular-season games, recently extended for three seasons at $1.53-million cap hit
4) Nick Merkley — 2015 first-rounder, 30th overall, skilled right-winger with 73 points (28 goals, 45 assists) in 83 AHL games, has been an all-star at that level
This team is doing well with young Finns and could look to add another.
1) Radek Faksa — 2012 first-rounder, 13th overall, 25-year-old third-line centre making $2.2 million for 2019-20, with 108 points (49 goals, 59 assists) in 285 career regular-season games, consistent 15-goal, 30-point 200-foot player but only one assist in 13 games in 2019 playoffs
2) Jason Dickinson — 2013 first-rounder, 29th overall, 24-year-old third-line centre with 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 105 career regular-season games
3) Denis Gurianov — 2015 first-rounder, 12th overall, skilled winger trending well, likely NHL-ready
4) Jason Robertson — 2017 second-rounder, 39th overall, nearly netted 50 goals in the OHL in 2018-19, three straight 40-plus goal seasons in OHL (42, 41, 48), skating is the knock but has knack as finisher
5) Roope Hintz — 2015 second-rounder, 49th overall, third-line centre less likely to be available after emerging during 2019 playoffs with eight points (five goals, three assists) in 13 games following 22 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 58 regular-season games as a rookie in 2018-19
Finn for Finn? That potential is certainly here.
1) Henrik Borgstrom — 2016 first-rounder, 23rd overall, third-line centre with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 54 career games, fellow Finn might have more value than Puljujarvi in the present
2) Aleksi Heponiemi — 2017 second-rounder, 40th overall, another Finn who starred for former Oilers assistant coach Manny Viveiros with WHL Swift Current, signed for 2019-20 after strong pro season back home
3) Owen Tippett — 2017 first-rounder, 10th overall, goal-scoring right-winger out of OHL with good size and wicked shot
4) Jayce Hawryluk — 2014 second-rounder, 32nd overall, played 42 games for Florida as a rookie in 2018-19 with 12 points (seven goals, five assists)
5) Serron Noel — 2018 second-rounder, 34th overall, 6-foot-5 right-winger from OHL
6) Denis Malgin — 2015 fourth-rounder, 102nd overall, right-handed middle-six forward can play centre, undersized but talented with 48 points (24 goals, 24 assists) in 148 career regular-season games
This is a team less likely to surrender prospects and more likely to be offering roster players in the midst of a rebuild. Still, there could be a fit and plenty of opportunity for Puljujarvi going forward.
1) Jean-Gabriel Pageau — right-handed third-line centre turning 27 in November, making $3.1 million for 2019-20 before UFA
2) Mikkel Boedker — left-winger turning 30 in December, making $4 million for 2019-20 before UFA, Ottawa can retain salary, had his best years under Dave Tippett in Arizona
3) Zack Smith — 31-year-old left-winger making $3.25 million for two more seasons, very serviceable and versatile in the bottom six
4) Logan Brown — 2016 first-rounder, 11th overall, 6-foot-6 potential third-line centre
5) Alex Formenton — 2017 second-rounder, 47th overall, speedy NHL-ready winger
6) Filip Chlapik — 2015 second-rounder, 48th overall, potential third-line centre with 25 games of NHL experience but Ottawa would need to add one of its three second-round picks for 2020
Edmonton’s old GM might have been more fond of these players than the new GM, but assistant GM Keith Gretzky will have the book on them from his time in charge of Boston’s amateur scouting.
1) Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson — 2015 second-rounder, 45th overall, right-handed potential third-line centre with 29 games of NHL experience but headed home to play in Sweden for 2019-20
2) Jack Studnicka — 2017 second-rounder, 53rd overall, right-handed potential third-line centre, trending well towards being solid NHLer
3) Trent Frederic — 2016 first-rounder, 29th overall, potential third-line centre
4) Danton Heinen — 24-year-old middle-six forward can play centre, 81 points (27 goals, 54 assists) in 162 career regular-season games, just signed two-year extension with $2.8-million salary on Tuesday
5) Jake DeBrusk — 2015 first-rounder, 14th overall, with 85 points (43 goals, 42 assists) in 138 career regular-season games, son of former Oilers enforcer Louie DeBrusk but unlikely to be available for Puljujarvi in a 1-for-1 swap
6) Anders Bjork — overachieving 2014 fifth-rounder, middle-six winger with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 50 career regular-season games, missed second half of 2018-19 after shoulder surgery
7) Peter Cehlarik — 2013 third-rounder, 90th overall, bottom-six forward with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 37 career regular-season games
New York Islanders
This team has a number of scoring wingers that could interest Edmonton.
1) Oliver Wahlstrom — 2018 first-rounder, 11th overall, right-winger can play centre, turned pro at end of 2018-19 with seven points (four goals, three assists) in 10 combined AHL games, sniper during draft year
2) Kieffer Bellows — 2016 first-rounder, 19th overall, left-winger was also sniper in junior but coming off mediocre pro debut with 12 goals in 73 AHL games
3) Josh Ho-Sang — 2014 first-rounder, 28th overall, enigmatic forward with 24 points (seven goals, 17 assists) in 53 career regular-season games, character concerns but talent is evident
4) Michael Dal Colle — 2014 first-rounder, fifth overall, underachieving left-winger with seven points (three goals, four assists) in 32 career regular-season games, bordering on bust but could benefit from change of scenery and fresh start
5) Anthony Beauvillier — 2015 first-rounder, 28th overall, quality middle-six forward with 88 points (48 goals, 40 assists) in 218 career regular-season games, may not be available for Puljujarvi
New York Rangers
This team could offer a known target of Edmonton’s former GM but would be less likely to offer top prospects in the midst of its own rebuild.
1) Chris Kreider — 28-year-old left-winger making $4.625 million in 2019-20 before UFA, good for 25 goals and could net 30
2) Vladislav Namestnikov — 2011 first-rounder, 27th overall, for Tampa Bay, middle-six forward can play centre, turns 27 in November, making $4 million in 2019-20 before UFA
3) Brett Howden — 2016 first-rounder, 27th overall, for Tampa Bay, potential third-line centre debuted with 23 points (six goals, 17 assists) over 66 games in 2018-19
4) Lias Andersson — 2017 first-rounder, seventh overall, potential third-line centre with eight points (three goals, five assists) in 49 career regular-season games
Detroit Red Wings
Holland’s former team is rebuilding and could take a chance on Puljujarvi, but hard to say what Steve Yzerman would be willing to offer.
1) Evgeny Svechnikov — 2015 first-rounder, 19th overall, winger missed all of 2018-19 with torn ACL
2) Jacob De La Rose — 2013 second-rounder, 34th overall, for Montreal, 24-year-old third-line centre with 28 points (11 goals, 17 assists) in 179 career regular-season games, making $900,000 for 2019-20, perhaps a 2-for-1 with Svechnikov and De La Rose for Puljujarvi?
3) Michael Rasmussen — 2017 first-rounder, ninth overall, 6-foot-6 potential third-line centre
4) Joe Veleno — 2018 first-rounder, 30th overall, potential third-line centre
This team has been shaking up its roster and may be interested in Puljujarvi, but at what price? The Oilers would ask for one of the bigger names here.
1) Dylan Cozens — 2019 first-rounder, seventh overall, taken right before Edmonton’s pick, right-handed potential top-six centre known for speed and shooting ability
2) Casey Mittelstadt — 2017 first-rounder, eighth overall, middle-six centre with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 83 career regular-season games, equally unlikely to be available but Holland has to inquire
3) Tage Thompson — 2016 first-rounder, 26th overall, for St. Louis, previously acquired in Ryan O’Reilly trade, 6-foot-6 right-handed third-line centre, with 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 106 regular-season games
4) Rasmus Asplund — 2016 second-rounder, 33rd overall, potential third-line centre
5) Marcus Davidsson — 2017 second-rounder, 37th overall, potential third-line centre, but wouldn’t be the centrepiece for a Puljujarvi trade
Puljujarvi could work well with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, but Edmonton would likely be asking for a couple players that Montreal wouldn’t want to relinquish.
1) Ryan Poehling — 2017 first-rounder, 25th overall, potential middle-six centre, scored hat-trick in NHL debut
2) Nick Suzuki — 2017 first-rounder, 13th overall, for Vegas, right-handed potential middle-six centre turning pro in 2019-20
3) Michael McCarron — 2013 first-rounder, 25th overall, 24-year-old 6-foot-6 right-handed third-line centre with eight points (two goals, six assists) in 69 career regular-season games, no NHL games in 2018-19 thus seemingly available
4) Artturi Lehkonen — 24-year-old left-winger with 80 points (41 goals, 39 assists) in 221 career regular-season games, signed two-year extension Thursday with $2.4-million salary, touted as a shooter that could complement Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the second line, 2013 second-rounder
5) Joel Armia — 26-year-old right-winger with 81 points (39 goals, 42 assists) in 237 career regular-season games, signed two-year extension Thursday with $2.6-million salary, 2011 first-rounder for Buffalo
6) Charles Hudon — 25-year-old left-winger with 39 points (13 goals, 26 assists) in 110 career regular-season games, had 10 goals and 30 points in 2017-18 but struggled in 2018-19 with just three goals and five points in 32 games as a frequent healthy scratch, current RFA filed for arbitration
Montreal could package picks with Hudon since the Habs have 12 for 2020, including two seconds and four fourths — so one of each, plus Hudon? Or is that too much quantity and not enough quality for Puljujarvi?
St. Louis Blues
The Stanley Cup champs are deep at the NHL level and deep in forward prospects — an embarrassment of riches, really. Perhaps Edmonton could cash in here.
1) Ivan Barbashev — 2014 second-rounder, 33rd overall, third-line centre with 51 points (26 goals, 25 assists) in 163 career regular-season games
2) Robby Fabbri — 2014 first-rounder, 21st overall, middle-six winger with 72 points (31 goals, 41 assists) in 155 career regular-season games, derailed by knee injuries in recent seasons but debuted with 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 2015-16
3) Jordan Kyrou — 2016 second-rounder, 35th overall, winger coming off impressive pro debut in 2018-19 with 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 47 AHL games
4) Klim Kostin — 2017 first-rounder, 31st overall, Russian looked good at this year’s World Juniors but still learning the North American game in the AHL
5) Dominik Bokk — 2018 first-rounder, 25th overall, skilled winger with big offensive upside
6) Sammy Blais — overachieving 2014 sixth-rounder, fast and physical with good size, scored at AHL level, made impression during Cup run
This team is already deep up front and may not have a role to Puljujarvi’s liking, but that would no longer be Edmonton’s problem.
1) Scott Laughton — 2012 first-rounder, 20th overall, 25-year-old third-line centre with 79 points (31 goals, 48 assists) in 272 career regular-season games, coming off career year of 12 goals and 32 points
2) Oskar Lindblom — overachieving 2014 fifth-rounder, with 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) in 104 career regular-season games
3) Morgan Frost — 2017 first-rounder, 27th overall, potential top-six forward can play centre as offensive catalyst
4) Isaac Ratcliffe — 2017 second-rounder, 35th overall, 6-foot-6 left-winger netted 50 goals in OHL
5) Joel Farabee — 2018 first-rounder, 14th overall, point-per-game player in lone NCAA season
Columbus Blue Jackets
Jarmo Kekalainen, the Finnish GM for Columbus, passed on Puljujarvi at third overall in the 2016 draft — he was considered the consensus third-best prospect that year — so it is unlikely the Blue Jackets would be offering much in the present.
1) Alexander Wennberg — 2013 first-rounder, 14th overall, third-line centre turning 25 in September, making $4.9 million for four more seasons, coming off bad campaign with only two goals but has scored 13 goals and 59 points in career-best season in 2016-17
2) Oliver Bjorkstrand — 24-year-old right-winger with 97 points (44 goals, 53 assists) in 197 career regular-season games, scored 23 goals in 2018-19 and came on strong in second half, should be 20-goal, 40-point player, 2013 third-rounder
3) Sonny Milano — 2014 first-rounder, 16th overall, enigmatic forward can play centre and has produced 24 points (15 goals, nine assists) in 70 career regular-season games, netted 14 goals in 55 games in 2017-18, but unable to stick in the NHL to date
4) Liam Foudy — 2018 first-rounder, 18th overall, speedy winger turning pro in 2019-20
Los Angeles Kings
There are some attractive assets in L.A. and the Kings were recently rumoured to have interest in Puljujarvi, but that seems an unlikely match with Todd McLellan already failing to unlock his potential during their time together in Edmonton.
1) Adrian Kempe — 2014 first-rounder, 29th overall, third-line centre with 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists) in 187 career regular-season games
2) Tyler Toffoli — 27-year-old right-winger making $4.6 million in 2019-20 before UFA, has scored 30 goals once and 20-plus twice
3) Jaret Anderson-Dolan — 2017 second-rounder, 41st overall, potential third-line centre, Kailer Yamamoto’s junior linemate from WHL Spokane, possibly NHL-ready for 2019-20
4) Arthur Kaliyev — 2019 second-rounder, 33rd overall, 51 goals and 102 points in OHL during draft year, Edmonton reportedly had interest if the Oilers traded down in first round
5) Carl Grundstrom — 2016 second-rounder, 57th overall, for Toronto, acquired as part of Jake Muzzin return, gritty left-winger netted five goals and six points in 15-game late-season audition for L.A.
6) Austin Wagner — 2015 fourth-rounder, speedy left-winger debuted with 12 goals and 21 points in 62 games as a rookie in 2018-19
7) Akil Thomas — 2018 second-rounder, 51st overall, produced 102 points in OHL in draft-plus-one campaign
Another divisional and regional rival that is probably too close in proximity to risk Puljujarvi realizing his potential in Vancouver. But otherwise, Edmonton could reap some rewards from the Canucks’ roster.
1) Jake Virtanen — 2014 first-rounder, sixth overall, right-winger making $1.25 million for 2019-20, 59 points (32 goals, 27 assists) in 210 career regular-season games, netted 15 goals in 2018-19
2) Nikolay Goldobin — 2014 first-rounder, 27th overall, for San Jose, skilled winger with 46 points (19 goals, 27 assists) in 124 career regular-season games, produced 27 points for Vancouver in 2018-19
3) Adam Gaudette — overachieving 2015 fifth-rounder, right-handed potential third-line centre debuted with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 56 games, also produced 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 14 AHL games in 2018-19 after winning Hobey Baker Award as best player in college hockey for 2017-18
4) Kole Lind — 2017 second-rounder, 33rd overall, right-winger struggled a bit in pro debut with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 51 AHL games but gained momentum in second half
5) Tyler Madden — 2018 third-rounder, 68th overall, right-handed centre had impressive NCAA debut with 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 36 games
6) Brandon Sutter — 30-year-old right-handed third-line centre, making $4.375 million for two more seasons, salary would need to be retained, coming off rough season with shoulder and groin injuries, then sports hernia surgery
This team has lots to offer too, but it’s safe to assume Edmonton would rather explore other options outside the division.
1) Troy Terry — overachieving 2015 fifth-rounder, right-winger with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 34 career regular-season games, point-per-game player in AHL with 41 in 41 in 2018-19
2) Ondrej Kase — right-winger turns 24 in November, 73 points (36 goals, 37 assists) in 149 career regular-season games, had 11 goals and 20 points over 30 games in 2018-19
3) Daniel Sprong — 2015 second-rounder, 46th overall, for Pittsburgh, right-winger with 28 points (18 goals, 10 assists) in 89 career regular-season games
4) Isac Lundestrom — 2018 first-rounder, 23rd overall, potential third-line centre
5) Sam Steel — 2016 first-rounder, 30th overall, potential middle-six centre with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 22 games as a rookie pro in 2018-19, also had 41 points (20 goals, 21 assists) in 53 AHL games, from Edmonton area
6) Max Comtois — 2017 second-rounder, 50th overall, mature left-winger produced seven points (two goals, five assists) in 10 NHL games to start 2018-19 before getting returned to junior, captained Canada at this year’s World Juniors
7) Max Jones — 2016 first-rounder, 24th overall, power left-winger
8) Bo Groulx — 2018 second-rounder, 54th overall, 200-foot forward with good size
San Jose Sharks
Continuing with the run of division rivals, this team hits as often as anybody outside the first round and develops a good number of its picks into NHLers. Edmonton could take lessons from San Jose, but likely won’t be taking any of these players any time soon.
1) Dylan Gambrell — 2016 second-rounder, 60th overall, right-handed potential third-line centre showed promise in playoffs
2) Noah Gregor — 2016 fourth-rounder, 111th overall, forward trending well, key to Prince Albert’s WHL championship, nephew of Edmonton radio man Jason Gregor
3) Sasha Chmelevski — overachieving 2017 sixth-rounder, right-handed centre looked like a future NHL player at this year’s World Juniors
4) Antti Suomela — 25-year-old third-line centre, European free-agent signing last summer, solid North American debut despite ending up in the AHL, San Jose could afford to package two of these first four to land Puljujarvi
5) Kevin Labanc — overachieving 2014 sixth-rounder, 23-year-old right-winger coming off 56-point campaign (17 goals, 39 assists), recently signed team-friendly $1-million extension for 2019-20, Edmonton would likely need to add a defence prospect like Ethan Bear with Puljujarvi to pry Labanc but would be remiss to not ask about his availability
Vegas Golden Knights
This division rival is looking to shed salary and could have a couple players of interest to Edmonton, though the Oilers don’t have much cap room either.
1) Nikita Gusev — 27-year-old right-shooting forward, restricted free agent wanting $4 million for NHL debut after dominating KHL
2) Cody Eakin — 28-year-old third-line centre, making $3.85 million in final season before UFA
Only two names of interest here — well, four counting Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome, but that’s obviously not happening — so Chicago is an unlikely suitor for Puljujarvi.
1) Brendan Perlini — 2014 first-rounder, 12th overall, for Arizona, left-winger with 72 points (45 goals, 27 assists) in 199 career regular-season games, scored 12 goals in 46 games with Chicago following trade in 2018-19, prorated to 21 goals over 82 games
2) Alex Nylander — 2016 first-rounder, eighth overall, for Buffalo, right-winger just acquired thus unlikely to be flipped, Buffalo may have explored Puljujarvi but preferred Jokiharju
This doesn’t look like a fit, not unless the Caps are willing to move a prospect they just picked.
1) Brett Leason — 2019 second-rounder, 56th overall, double-overager could be NHL-ready in middle-six role, might have been an Edmonton target for 38th overall until Raphael Lavoie fell there
Never rule out Jim Rutherford, but he doesn’t have much to offer that would appeal to Edmonton.
1) Jared McCann — 2014 first-rounder, 24th overall, for Vancouver, third-line centre making $1.25 million with 88 points (38 goals, 50 assists) in 244 career regular-season games, already on his third team
2) Bryan Rust — 27-year-old right-winger making $3.5 million for three more seasons, versatile forward coming off career-high 18 goals but expendable after Brandon Tanev signing in free agency
Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas doesn’t have much to offer, either — assuming Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson aren’t going anywhere.
1) Jeremy Bracco — 2015 second-rounder, 61st overall, finished second among AHL scoring leaders in 2018-19 with 79 points (22 goals, 57 assists) in 75 games
2) Frederik Gauthier — 2013 first-rounder, 21st overall, bottom-six centre bordering on bust and far from living up to his nickname as the goat
3) Adam Brooks — 2016 fourth-rounder, 92nd overall, potential third-line centre that seems to be overachieving, but Toronto would probably need to package two of these three players with a 2020 second-round pick to land Puljujarvi
It’s probably safe to cross the provincial rival off this list, even though Calgary does have better pieces to offer than some of these other teams. Edmonton just can’t risk Puljujarvi panning out down Highway No. 2.
1) Dillon Dube — 2016 second-rounder, 56th overall, point-per-game player in AHL as rookie pro with 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 37 games, also 25 games of NHL experience but only five points (one goal, four assists)
2) Mark Jankowski — 2012 first-rounder, 21st overall, turning 25 in September, 6-foot-4 third-line centre with 57 points (31 goals, 26 assists) in 152 career regular-season games
3) Sam Bennett — 2014 first-rounder, fourth overall, middle-six forward can play centre with 116 points (55 goals, 61 assists) in 312 career regular-season games, seems to be 15-goal, 30-point third-liner but might have more value than Puljujarvi
My Top 10 Targets for Oilers
1) Joel Eriksson Ek — realistic target with matching point total
2) Jack Roslovic — both requesting change of scenery
3) Pavel Zacha — both falling short of expectations thus far
4) Tyson Jost — Alberta boy seemed to take a step in playoffs
5) Oliver Wahlstrom — inconsistent in college but looked better as a pro
6) Henrik Borgstrom — high ceiling but hasn’t hit stride yet
7) Christian Fischer — big-bodied winger with heavy shot fell out of favour with Rick Tocchet
8) Christian Dvorak — coming off injury-plagued season but versatile middle-six forward
9) Colton Sissons — underrated right-handed centre could be perfect fit for third line
10) Radek Faksa — bit older but very effective 200-foot player to plug third-line hole
Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.