We pause the regularly scheduled ‘Return to Play’ content for a potential signing by the Edmonton Oilers. After spending a year in Finland, could Jesse Puljujarvi come back to the Oilers? The fourth overall pick in 2016 is no longer ruling that out.
“You can never say no,” Puljujarvi recently told a Finnish publication. “I have grown and I see things a little differently. There’s now a different GM and head coach out there. Build(ing) a winning team in Edmonton. It may be possible that I will still be playing there.”
Puljujarvi and the Oilers saw their relationship completely collapse during the 2018-19 season. Puljujarvi disputed how the club had handled a medical situation, which was the straw that broke the back after years of mismanaging his development. He requested a trade in February of 2019, which went public that June.
The request was made when Keith Gretzky was interim General Manager, and the mismanagement came at the hands of Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan. Both are gone from the organization, replaced with Ken Holland and Dave Tippett, respectively.
Holland, in particular, has a terrific track record with European players. He recently pitched that track record, along with his coach, to Puljujarvi.
“It was a good and constructive conference call,” Puljujarvi said in the same article about his recent conversation with Holland and Tippett. “However, I will not go into the details. The call left a positive overall picture.”
Puljujarvi isn’t likely to sign in the KHL or in Switzerland, per sources. He did not rule out a return to Karpat for the start of the 2020-21 season. The goal could be to start the year there, then join the Oilers in mid-November for training camp.
The 2020-21 NHL season is tentatively slated to start on December 1st.
In 56 games with Karpat last season, Puljujarvi scored 53 points (24 g, 29 a). He had just nine points (4 g, 5 a) in 46 NHL games back in 2018-19 under McLellan and then Ken Hitchcock.
Puljujarvi remains property of the Oilers and is a restricted free agent.