Dating back to the offseason, it has felt like only a matter of time before the Edmonton Oilers and Jesse Puljujarvi parted ways. The 24-year-old Finnish winger has just never seemed to work out the way he, nor the organization and its fanbase had hoped, regardless of which side certain individuals may blame.
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While a trade hasn’t occurred yet featuring the man Oilers fans dubbed ‘Bison King’, it appears to be a foregone conclusion he won’t be a part of the roster in the very near future. General manager Ken Holland is hoping to find the cap space necessary, not only to bring in another defenseman for his club but also to activate Kailer Yamamoto off of long-term injured reserve. Because of that, Puljujarvi appears to be the sacrificial lamb. That said, trading the former fourth-overall pick hasn’t come easy, and may require the Oilers to do something rather drastic.
Puljujarvi Believed to Soon Be Waiver Bound
It seems crazy to think given how high so many were on this player years ago, but given how hard it has been to trade Puljujarvi, management may have no choice other than to place him on waivers. The idea has been floated around over the past day by several media members, with the first being Ryan Rishaug during an appearance on the Jason Gregor Show Wednesday afternoon.
“1000 per cent, there’s a chance that they’ll waive Puljujarvi,” Rishaug said. “I think they’re trying to trade him as we speak. I don’t think there’s a trade there to be had. I think if all things being equal and the health of the rest of the team stays the same, I think there’s a very good chance we’ll see Puljujarvi on waivers.”
As shocking as that may be, Rishaug said that he doesn’t believe Puljujarvi would be claimed by any of the other 31 teams around the league if indeed placed on waivers. It is hard to believe but shows just how much his stock has fallen over the last year.
What Rishaug also went on to mention is that he believes if Puljujarvi were to go unclaimed on waivers, it may make him easier for Holland to trade ahead of the deadline. Not only would this lower his cap hit, but it would also allow whichever team acquired him the option to keep him in the American Hockey League (AHL) for a period of time should they wish to do so. None of this is ideal, but it appears to have become necessary for what is a cap-crunched team.
If Not Puljujarvi, Then Who?
If for whatever reason the Oilers choose not to put Puljujarvi on waivers, something else will have to give. By all accounts, it sounds as though Yamamoto is ready to be activated, and could be as soon as this coming Saturday. If that is indeed the case, and management decides to keep Puljujarvi around, there are a few other names who could be heading out the door.
One player that will undoubtedly be placed on waivers is Devin Shore, who hasn’t played since New Year’s Eve. While a beloved member of the dressing room, the 28-year-old hasn’t done enough to earn himself a regular spot on this team, he is a great depth piece to have in the AHL, assuming he goes unclaimed.
After Shore, things get more interesting. Again, the likely answer here is that Puljujarvi is next up, but there have been whispers of other names too. Warren Foegele has been a player that has been discussed, though his play has really improved as of late, and he is providing more to this team on a nightly basis than Puljujarvi has. The other is Derek Ryan, though his ability to play center ice makes him valuable. While the argument could have been made weeks ago, it seems unlikely that either is going anywhere at this point.
Change of Scenery Could Save Puljujarvi’s Career
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out for Puljujarvi in Edmonton. There were glimpses of the player he could be during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons, but he was never able to establish himself offensively to gain the trust of the Oilers coaching staff. He is a solid defensive player who isn’t shy to throw the body, which could make him valuable for another team. Who knows, perhaps he will be able to re-discover that scoring touch that made him such a high pick back in 2016. What is clear, however, is that his time with the Oilers is soon ending.