This in from Bob Stauffer of the Oilers radio network: “Distinct possibility that we see Jesse Puljujarvi return to Edmonton Oilers on a short term deal. New GM/HC since Puljujarvi was last in Edm. Puljujarvi’s agency has merged with Connor McDavid’s agency. Oilers would have 6 RW’s. Could result in a RW belng moved for a LW.”
- If the ultimate team insider says there’s a “distinct possibility” for a deal here, I’m taking this as the next best thing to a done deal.
- On the right side, the Oilers have Kailer Yamamoto, Zack Kassian, Alex Chiasson, Patrick Russell, plus Josh Archibald and James Neal, who play either wing. On the left side, the Oilers have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Joakim Nygard, rookie-to-be Tyler Benson, sometimes Jujhar Khaira, maybe Andreas Athanasiou and maybe Tyler Ennis,
- If Puljujarvi signs, given the high number of wingers, I would not expect Athanasiou to be qualified at $3.0 million.
- As I have said before, Puljujarvi’s move to Finland could work out well for both Puljujarvi and the Oilers. As we all know, Puljujarvi signed in Finland for the 2019-20 season instead of returning to the Oilers. If he had returned to Edmonton, he would no longer have been on his Entry Level Contract last September, meaning that Edmonton could not send him to the American Hockey League without first putting him on waivers, where another NHL team would almost certainly have taken him. The Oilers would have lost him for nothing. In this way, it was a blessing in disguise for him to go to Finland.
- It was unlikely that after three mediocre seasons in Edmonton that Puljujarvi was going to suddenly turn the corner and succeed here in 2019-20. He was coming off a hip injury. His confidence appeared to be shot. He needed time and space to get his game together. Meanwhile, the Oilers need to win ASAP, so Edmonton was unlikely to be a good fit for a player in need of some slow cooking. Since that take-it-slow approach was unlikely to happen in Edmonton, and could not happen in the AHL due to the waiver wire rules, Puljujarv’s flight to Finland was really the only way he might salvage his career as an Oiler. If he had signed a new NHL contract, he would most likely be with another NHL team today.
- Puljujarvi has recently made it clear that after a solid season in Finland, he might just return to Edmonton. “You can never say no,” he said recently. “I have grown and I see things a little 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.” This was a major softening of his stance from last year when he and his agent made it clear they were looking for him to be traded to another NHL city. It seems that after his positive season in Finland, he might just be ready to try again in Edmonton. And now that he’s a year older, a year more mature, much healthier, more experienced and coming off his most successful year as a professional, Puljujarvi is that much more likely to make it with the Oilers in 2020-21.
- Puljujarvi’s chance of success in Edmonton will be enhanced in part because he might well be teamed with a top centre like Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, but even more important is that the team has new management in Ken Holland and Dave Tippett. It’s not that Peter Chiarelli, Todd McLellan or Ken Hitchcock intended to be bad for Puljujarvi and his development, but the player gets a chance to make a new first impression with Holland and Tippett, and he gets to do so as a 22-year-old who has learned some tough lessons, not an 18-year-old who had a lot to learn. I can see this working out. It’s a long shot, yes, but Puljujarvi’s odds of making it in Edmonton are much higher now than they were one year ago.
- Essentially, Puljujarvi’s year in Finland amounted to him shaking the box, changing things up, changing the energy and trajectory of his career. It has turned out to be an entirely positive move, certainly not something I’m going to hold against him, even as I am a hardcore Oilers fan. I give him credit, and my hope remains he can still make it work with the Oilers.
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