The Jesse Puljujarvi saga could be coming to an end soon. Edmonton Oilers radio analyst and host of ‘Oilers Now’ Bob Stauffer tweeted the following on Thursday morning, 15 days ahead of the opening of the 2020 free agent period.
Distinct possibility that we see Jesse Puljujarvi return to @EdmontonOilers on a short term deal.
New GM/HC since Puljujarvi was last in Edm.
Puljujarvi’s agency has merged with Connor McDavid’s agency.
Oilers would have 6 RW’s.
Could result in a RW belng moved for a LW.
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) September 24, 2020
Puljujarvi had numerous conversations with General Manager Ken Holland and Head Coach Dave Tippett during the course of the summer months, prior to Edmonton taking part in the NHL’s ‘Return to Play’ process in July and August. Puljujarvi has since began his season in Finland with Karpat of the SM-liiga. In his most recent contract, Puljujarvi did negotiate an NHL ‘out-clause’ for the 2020-21 season.
Drafted fourth overall in 2016, Puljujarvi never could stick with the Oilers. He played 28 games in 2016-17, scoring on opening night but not lighting the lamp again. He finished with eight points (1 g, 7 a) and was sent to the AHL in January. There, Puljujarvi scored 28 points (12 g, 16 a) in 39 games with the Bakersfield Condors.
Puljujarvi played a more full-time role in 2017-18 with the Oilers, appearing in 65 games. He scored 20 points (12 g, 8 a), and saw time with Connor McDavid. That represents the high-water mark of Puljujarvi’s career.
After starting the 2018-19 season in Edmonton, Puljujarvi was once again yo-yo’d between the AHL and NHL. He played in 46 NHL games (4-5-9) and four AHL games (2-2-4) while dealing with a hip injury. That injury ended his season in February, and ended his first stint with the Oilers.
Puljujarvi requested a trade in February of 2019, and spent the 2019-20 season with Karpat when that request was not met by new GM Ken Holland.
Things have changed. Puljujarvi scored 53 points (24 g, 29 a) in 56 games for Karpat a season ago. He was one of the most productive forwards in the SM-liiga last season, finishing first on his team in scoring and fourth in the league.
A new GM and new coach opened the door for these conversations, as did the success of Kailer Yamamoto after a couple of similar starts and stops in his development. The on-ice success of the Oilers in 2019-20 also helped Puljujarvi soften his stance.
As for a contract, the expectation is that it will be a one-year deal somewhere between $1,000,000 and $1,500,000. Puljujarvi is almost certain to start on the third line behind Yamamoto and Zack Kassian on the depth chart.
In addition, the signing of Puljujarvi could open the door for a trade, as Stauffer alluded too. Sources in both Edmonton and Boston have indicated that the Oilers have interest in left winger Andres Bjork. This interest is not new. Alex Chiasson has been rumored to be of interest for the Bruins.
Another name to keep an eye on? Erik Haula. The veteran Finnish center could be the perfect mentor for Puljujarvi, and could be a great fit as the team’s third-line center behind McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Adding a center will be priority for the Oilers in free agency.