Jesse Puljujarvi’s future with the Edmonton Oilers remains up in the air.
Rumors spread in June that he may sign with a KHL team rather than return to North America after his entry-level contract expired. Before that, the Oilers were reportedly involved in trade talks regarding the 21-year-old Swede ahead of last February’s deadline.
Puljujarvi has had a tough time so far in his NHL career, only scoring 37 points in 139 games for the Oilers. He was initially touted as a big-bodied scoring winger whom the organization was lucky to take fourth overall in the 2016 NHL draft, and he even made the Oilers out of training camp in the fall of that year, an 18-year-old thrust onto a roster with stars not much older than him in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Since then? Neither Puljujarvi nor the Oilers have much to show for his tenure. His 2018-19 season ended after just 46 games played and with only nine points when he underwent season-ending hip surgery in March. The latest reports indicate that he still wants a change of scenery.
Hockey writer Jouni Nieminen reported Friday that Puljujarvi told a Finnish newspaper that while he still intends on playing in North America, he wants to move on from Edmonton and may stay in Finland until he has a contract elsewhere. Nieminen’s translation goes on to say that Puljujarvi believes Oilers general manager Ken Holland will trade him before training camp starts.
The trouble for Puljujarvi is that he has little, if any, leverage. His restricted free-agent status means that his options are limited – but unless a team comes calling with an offer Holland can’t refuse, Puljujarvi has no means of actually forcing his way out of Edmonton. Despite his early-career troubles, he just turned 21 in May. There is a reason he was such a high draft pick, and it’s possible new Oilers coach Dave Tippett can help him reach his potential.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal pointed to this conundrum on Twitter, remarking that Puljujarvi would be sacrificing a lot of money if he elected to play in Finland’s top league this season rather than sign even a one-year contract in the NHL and let his future play out naturally. He also noted that Holland, who served as the Red Wings’ general manager during the team’s success in the late 1990s and up until earlier this year, cannot be forced to make a move he does not want to make.
Matheson reported that one NHL executive told him “[Puljujarvi has] chosen flight over fight.”
Source: Read Full Article