If Jesse Puljujarvi has his way, he has played his last game with Edmonton. His agent Markus Lehto told reporters, including Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, that if the winger is not traded, he will play overseas next season.
Things have not gone well for the 21-year-old, who was the fourth overall pick back in 2016. While the hope was that he could be a future winger for Connor McDavid on their top line, he has been anything but. Puljujarvi has struggled offensively and his overall game hasn’t really improved too much from his rookie season. He had just nine points in 46 games with the Oilers in 2018-19, hardly the type of output they were expecting from him in his third season.
There’s a case to be made that Puljujarvi should stick it out with Edmonton. Not only are there multiple vacancies on the right wing, it’s a new situation with GM Ken Holland and head coach Dave Tippett joining the team this offseason. Their presence presents an opportunity for a fresh start without necessarily needing to go anywhere. According to Lehto, multiple teams have already shown interest while Spector adds that Jokerit (KHL) or Karpat (SM-liiga) would be preferred landing spots.
However, it appears that in Puljujarvi’s eyes, that won’t be enough and a move out of Edmonton is preferred. Unfortunately for him, his trade value isn’t particularly high right now; a report earlier today stated that they were seeking a third-line winger for his services. Holland was asked to comment on the trade request and certainly didn’t want to guarantee that Puljujarvi will be suiting up with another NHL team next season:
At the end of the day, if you can do a deal that makes sense for the Edmonton Oilers, you do it. If you can’t, you go over (to Europe) and watch him play, and hopefully he scores a lot of goals over there.
As a restricted free agent this summer, Edmonton can simply issue a qualifying offer to Puljujarvi to retain his negotiating rights and Holland essentially confirmed they’ll do so with the above comment. With the draft just days away, the Oilers could change course and look for a draft pick if someone they like starts to fall down the board which would open up some other trade opportunities but even at that, it’s a situation where they’ll sell low. Just how low Holland is willing to go will ultimately determine if Puljujarvi gets his wish.