On Wednesday, word quickly spread that Edmonton Oilers F Jesse Puljujarvi was on his way to the KHL. Caught by Woodguy on Twitter early Wednesday morning, rumors from Finland had Puljujarvi returning home to sign a one-year deal with KHL outfit Jokerit. The historic Finish team, owned by Oiler legend Jari Kurri, makes some sense as a temporary landing spot for Puljujarvi.
As quick as the rumor emerged, however, it was killed. Reports from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug and Darren Dreger, along with Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, put an end to the Puljujarvi-to-Finland rumors.
My understanding is negotiations between Puljujarvi and Oilers are ongoing, and a KHL deal would come as a surprise to the team. He’s not free to sign with another league until the end of June, and is continuing his injury rehab in cooperation with the team. https://t.co/A3izuENUDc— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) June 5, 2019
Puljujarvi heading to Finland for a season isn’t the ideal scenario, but it also isn’t the worst thing in the world. Although I’d prefer he continues developing on the North American ice, a trip home could help him in the long run. After all, on Jokerit Puljujarvi would be a key player and would have a defined role that plays to his strengths. He’d also get a chance to return home and do what every kid in his early 20’s needs to do, mature a bit.
There are benefits to retaining Puljujarvi’s rights and letting him play on Kurri’s squad for a season. It could help jump the young forward’s career, and it would relieve the Oilers of the problem of finding a spot for him to develop in 2019-20.
None of that matters, however, because Puljujarvi has no plans to go overseas. As Rishaug points out, negotiations with the Oil are still ongoing.
Does that mean a deal gets done with Edmonton? No, it doesn’t. Although, according to Dreger, the NHL is Puljujarvi’s top choice at this time. That next contract still might not be in Edmonton, because it doesn’t appear the Oilers are Puljujarvi’s top choice.
Puljujarvi’s first three seasons were rocky at best, and although he certainly deserves some blame, the organization didn’t put him in the best position to succeed.
Even with a new GM and new head coach in the mix, Puljujarvi is still hoping for a trade out of Edmonton and a fresh start somewhere else.
League sources have recently suggested trade remains a strong option as well. https://t.co/VbnLLnOLm2— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 5, 2019
If it were up to me, the Oilers would get Puljujarvi signed to a bridge deal and play him in the top-nine for the entire season. Attach him to one of the top centers and see what he can do in a consistent role. The Oil invested heavily in this player, and I firmly believe there is more to give.
In the end, a trade seems far too likely. Puljujarvi has a desire to leave Edmonton, and even after his struggles he is still one of the more attractive trade chips on the roster.
What’s next for Puljujarvi in Edmonton? I’d love to see a contract extension and a little confidence from Tippett. The more likely outcome? Puljujarvi will be one of many sent packing in the next few weeks.