Even if you are an Edmonton Oilers’ fan, what have you heard about Jesse Puljujarvi recently? I’m thinking not much. So, when you hear talk about Puljujarvi being a “trade chip” useful by the Oilers at the trade deadline, there’s a chance you have to think that’s coming out of the blue.
But here’s what we know about Puljujarvi.
- Puljujarvi is a restricted free agent, but he’s refused to sign with the Oilers. Instead, he asked to be traded.
- Edmonton basically said, No thanks. The team explored trades, but it didn’t get a trade offer it liked and decided not to do the young Finn any favors. The Oilers continue to own his rights.
- Because Puljujarvi didn’t sign prior to the December 2019 deadline, he isn’t eligible to play in the NHL this season.
- Instead, Puljujarvi went to play in the Finnish league for the season. There he’s having a great season with 38 points in 39 games.
- In fact, he’s having such a strong season that he’s definitely a player to watch in the 2020-21 NHL season – that is, if he either decides to re-sign with the Oilers or he’s traded by the Oilers someplace else.
- However, none of this can happen unless the contract/player dispute is ended in time for the 2020-21 season to begin.
Here’s Where It Gets Interesting
Today, on Saturday, January 25th, The Sporting News wrote a small piece noting that the Oilers were likely to use Puljujarvi as a trade chip before the deadline. If so, how would that work?
The Oilers, because they are having a strong season, will probably be buyers at the trade deadline. Specifically, the team would probably be in the market for a third-line center. However, because Puljujarvi didn’t sign before the RFA deadline last month, he’s ineligible to play in the NHL during any time in the 2019-20 campaign.
That said, that fact might not stop a rebuilding team that’s thinking to its long-term future. It would sort of be like trading for a draft pick, except you’d know who the draft pick was. In a case like that – and, for me, the Ottawa Senators come to mind, Puljujarvi’s current ineligibility wouldn’t be a problem because you’d likely be selling an established player for a “future unknown” anyway.
Still, would an NHL team be interested in a player like Puljujarvi who, granted, is doing really well in the Finnish league this season, but who never really got untracked with the Oilers during his time there? That’s the question that remains up in the air.
Would the Oilers’ General Manager Ken Holland Trade Puljujarvi for a Rental?
That was exactly the question The Sporting News’ Tommy McArdle asked today in his post: Would Oilers GM Ken Holland explore trading Puljujarvi to a team that would want him to play next season? In fact, as McArdle explained, Holland actually explored part of his thought process in an interview earlier this month, and made three significant points:
Point One: Trading Puljujarvi for a rental player is negative because it gives away the 2016 fourth-overall draft pick for a player who would likely only join Edmonton for the rest of this season.
Point Two: Puljujarvi and his agent made it very clear he doesn’t want to play in Edmonton any longer. As a result, Holland might wait until this June’s draft to explore a more competitive “hockey trade” that benefits the Oilers better.
Point Three: If Holland holds on to Puljujarvi until the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and can’t find a good deal, Puljujarvi must decide again if he wants to sign with the Oilers or stay in Europe another season.
Added to that, Puljujarvi simply might want to stay home – others have had long hockey careers and never skated in the NHL – and simply continue to play in Finland. He’s obviously happy enough there. So, in some ways, the power seems balanced in this situation.
Finally, according to McArdle, Holland noted that he had explored trades for Puljujarvi in the fall but none of them interested him enough to pull the trigger. When asked specifically if he’d trade Puljujarvi for a rental, Holland’s answer was terse: “Depends who the rental player is, I guess.”
As Far as Puljujarvi Goes: Does His Experience in Finland Help Him?
Fellow Finnish player Sebastian Aho believes that spending the 2019-20 campaign in the Finnish league might not have been ideal for Puljujarvi, but could work out well for the young player. Specifically, it would likely be to his long-term benefit.
Aho noted, “He’s having a good year in the Finnish league. I think it’s good for him to get the confidence back so he can play in the NHL next year, or in the future. He’s a good player. It didn’t go his way here, but he’s still a young guy. It doesn’t mean his NHL career is over.”
Related: Most Likely Oilers to Go Before the NHL Trade Deadline
What’s Puljujarvi’s Current Situation?
Right now, Jesse Puljujarvi remains an Oiler Ex-Pat, who’s living and playing overseas. Will he remain an Oiler throughout the 2020 trade deadline? We don’t know yet, but at least there’s some interesting talk about the possibility that he won’t.
Right now, the situation is that everyone’s a loser.
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