The Jesse Puljujarvi situation took yet another disappointing turn on Friday. The RFA forward, who requested a trade prior to June’s NHL Entry Draft, spoke with the media in Finland on Friday night. Puljujarvi played in a charity game in his home country, and treated the crowd to a highlight reel goal on a feed from pal Sebastian Aho.
Jouni Nieminen has the quote from Oulu, where Puljujarvi talked to Kaleva Newspaper.
The Finnish winger, unsurprisingly, has not come off of his stance on wanting a fresh start and trade out of Edmonton. In one sense, it is very understandable. After all, the club did him no favors during the course of his three year entry-level contract.
Puljujarvi was brought to Edmonton far before he was ready for the NHL, was yo-yo’d between the NHL and AHL and was never given a consistent spot in the lineup. The club did him no favors, and the mismanagement of Puljujarvi is a huge stain on Todd McLellan’s tenure as head coach. Peter Chiarelli, the disgraced former GM, is also to blame for Edmonton’s handling of Puljujarvi.
It is fair for Puljujarvi to have lost trust in the Oiler organization. No one can fault him for being ticked off at how the club handled him and how his leash was alarmingly short compared to others who made the same mistakes. Frustration, especially at his young age, should not be a surprise.
The thing about this situation is the lack of accountability and reason from Puljujarvi’s side. Both McLellan and Chiarelli have been fired, and Ken Hitchcock will have no impact on the on-ice product in 2019-20. There is a new head coach in Dave Tippet and a new head of management in Ken Holland. For all intents and purposes, there is a fresh slate for everyone in Edmonton.
Everyone, from fans to media and to the organization, seems to realize that. The only people that don’t? Puljujarvi and his agent. The Oilers have one of the worst right wing depth charts in hockey and they are desperate for skilled wingers. With a new coach and a new GM, and plenty of opportunity, there might not be a better spot than Edmonton for the Puljujarvi.
He can’t, or maybe worse won’t, realize that. It’s turned this into a very frustrating venture for everyone involved. He’s not going to beat Holland at his own game. He may as well handle the adversity and work his way back.
What Comes Next?:
Puljujarvi essentially told everyone on Friday night that he has no intentions of signing and reporting to camp in Edmonton next month. If he doesn’t get the trade he desires, he’ll find a place to play in Europe. Expect him to do just that.
For all of the criticism Ken Holland has gotten over his career, he’s been very consistent in situations like this. Holland is not going to make a deal just to make this headache go away. He has no problem waiting the Finn out and getting the best return possible for the Edmonton Oilers.
He did just that with Jiri Hudler, allowing the Russian to play in the KHL for a year before he eventually returned to the Wings.
History shows that Holland will wait this out and that a solution isn’t likely to come anytime soon. History would also show that, in the end, that is the right decision. Joe Sakic did the same with Matt Duchene and came out ahead. Holland’s student Steve Yzerman did it with Jonathan Drouin and got a great deal as well.
Its very unfortunate, but the Puljujarvi situation appears beyond repair. Even with a new coach, new GM and many new players, Puljujarvi will not budge on his trade request. At this point, the club should just allow him to go to Europe and hopefully tear up the Sm-Liiga or KHL.
That will (hopefully) build his trade value up and allow the Oilers to acquire a piece or two that can actually help. It’s the better route than trading him right now, and I suspect it is the route Holland takes.
Lastly, if I’m Puljujarvi I’m moving on from Markus Lehto. No offense to the agent, but I think he’s greatly misreading this situation.
A winter in Finland appears likely for Puljujarvi. The hope now is that he rebuilds his value and Holland’s patience pays off. The club could use a positive break in this situation.