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Edmonton Oilers News & Rumors: Nugent-Hopkins, Broberg & Puljujarvi

What news is coming out of the Edmonton Oilers organization?

With the NHL on hold because of the coronavirus, that means there’s no on-ice news to write about for NHL teams. That said, it doesn’t mean that there’s no news emerging from the organization. In this post, I hope to keep Edmonton Oilers fans up-to-date on news emerging from the organization.

Item One: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ Career Season Ended Early

The 2019-20 season was shaping up to be a good one for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Then, sadly, the pandemic hit. Since the beginning of the new year – actually, since December 31, RNH was the fifth-leading scorer among NHL forwards with 15 goals and 26 assists (41 points) in 30 games. The only four forwards ahead of him were his teammate Leon Draisaitl, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, and a pair of New York Rangers – Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin.

What was the difference for RNH? The Oilers found a new line combination that seems to have brought out the best in everyone. Nugent-Hopkins began to score with regularity when he was partnered with Draisaitl and the young rookie Kailer Yamamoto. Before the season was paused, RHN had totaled 22 goals and 61 points in 65 games and was on a pace that would have seen him beat the 69 points he’d scored in 82 games last season.

Related: Oilers Keeping Philip Broberg In Sweden Next Season

Item Two: Will Young Oilers’ Defenseman Philip Broberg Play in Sweden Another Season?

There are rumors that the Oilers will opt to have their young defenseman Philip Broberg continue to play in Sweden yet another season. The Oilers chose Broberg as the team’s first-round pick (eighth overall) in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He looks to be a strong young prospect, and it seems the Oilers might be targeting the 2021-22 season for his NHL debut. Although he’s a great skater with a huge offensive upside, playing with Skelleftea in the SHL for the 2019-20 season, he only scored eight points in 45 games. 

Oilers general manager Ken Holland weighed in on the subject to explain why Broberg’s numbers were down this season: “Obviously when you take a player eighth in the draft and he’s a defenseman you want some offense, but Philip was an 18-year-old playing in a men’s league this season.”

Holland added, “We feel he’s in a good place at Skelleftea, Philip was happy this year and we’d like to see him on more speciality teams next season. We’d like to have him come to our training camp this year to see what he looks like. And the last world juniors he was playing with (a Los Angeles Kings first-rounder, Tobias) Bjornfot in a defensive role. (Toronto first-rounder, Rasmus) Sandin and a few others were used on the power play and with the more offensive players. He wasn’t that guy then, but my hope is at the next world juniors (scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer over Christmas) he’ll be in that role if he earns it. And we’ll see him in our own back yard.” (from “Oilers prospect Philip Broberg will work on his game in Sweden for another year,” Jim Matheson, Edmonton Sun, 03/28/20)

Item Three: What’s the Status of Jesse Puljujarvi?

It seems as if there’s no meeting of the minds with Jesse Puljujarvi and that the water has flowed under the bridge for the young Finn – that’s two metaphors for the price of one, I know. In other words, the Oilers look to have reached a place where they have little choice but to trade him. That said, now that the 2020 World Championship has been canceled, the team might not be able to make a trade any time soon.

Puljujarvi refused to sign with the Oilers for the 2019-20 campaign. Instead, he decided to play at home with Karpat of Finland’s Liiga. The hope was that such a move would push the Oilers to trade him, but so far nothing’s happened.

Still, you’d think Puljujarvi has helped his cause when he scored 24 goals and 29 assists (for 53 points) in 56 games. But how well would his game have translated to the NHL? Other NHL teams were likely waiting to see how well Puljujarvi played at The World Championships, but now they’ve been canceled.

Where does that leave the two combatants? The answer is probably where they’ve always been. With the World Championship tournament gone, there’s nowhere the young Finn can showcase his talents against NHL-level competition. That might leave the Oilers holding the bag until another team is willing to meet the team’s asking price, and waiting is something Holland has shown he’s willing to do.

The savvy Oilers general manager is nothing but patient. And, if Puljujarvi isn’t traded during the offseason (whenever that might be), he has a tough decision. Will he sign with Edmonton, or will he stay in Finland? Although he’s enjoying success back home, playing in the NHL has one perk that’s hard to beat. The salary is much higher.  

Related: Remembering Edmonton Oilers “The Moose” Messier: One of the NHL’s Greatest Leaders of All-Time

My research suggests (but this source compared 2018 salaries, so it’s two years old now) that Players in Finland’s SM-liiga make more than $200,000 USD a season with the best players earning more than twice that amount. For the 2018 season, the top earner for Finland’s SM-liiga was Corey Locke, who earned over $438,000 a season.

Given the difference in salaries, will Puljujarvi sign with the Oilers or miss a second season in a row of earning an NHL salary? If you’re an Oilers’ fan – as I am, I’d love to see the youngster give it another chance in Edmonton. It isn’t the same team he left. So much has changed.

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