The Edmonton Oilers quickly changed their tune today after forward Jesse Puljujarvi signed a one-year deal with his hometown team in Finland’s Liiga. The Oilers had been adamant that they were content to hold on to Puljujarvi, citing disappointing trade offers and a confidence that he could still be an effective member of the team. That changed after it became clear that he had no intention to play for Edmonton this season or possibly ever again. New GM Ken Holland was quick to clarify that Puljujarvi’s contract in Finland did not impact his trade value and that he could suit up in the NHL immediately if traded. Holland also took the opportunity to state that several new teams have made inquiries about Puljujarvi’s availability of late.
Interestingly, with the Oilers now seemingly focused on trading Puljujarvi, the asking price has arguably increased, despite underwhelming offers to this point. Previously reported as being an established third-line forward, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug reports that Edmonton is now seeking a prospect with top-nine upside as well as a draft pick as their preferred return for Puljujarvi. He adds that an established player may still be a suitable return, but he would have to have term remaining on his contract beyond this coming season.
If the Oilers had struggled to this point to get a fair offer in their eyes for a player they weren’t shopping, it does seem odd that they feel they can increase the asking price when their priority seems to have shifted to moving Puljujarvi. Of course, some may feel that the asking price is of the same quality of lower, considering “third-line forwards” such as Pittsburgh’s Bryan Rust and Boston’s Charlie Coyle have been among rumored targets of the Oilers, either of whom could draw a first-round pick and top-nine prospect from a contender in need. Either way, Rishaug’s report of a changing asking price at least confirms that the mindset has changed in Edmonton and the team is more focused than ever on parting ways with Puljujarvi, even if they continue to maintain that they will only do so on their terms.