Ever since Jesse Puljujarvi left the Edmonton Oilers to return home to Finland last summer, signing a one-year deal with Karpat, there has been plenty of speculation about his future, his trade value, and his relationship with his current NHL rights holder. However, there has been little in the way of concrete news. That changed today as Puljujarvi himself spoke with Finnish news source Iltalehti about his current free agency and what to expect of his career moving forward.
First and foremost, Puljujarvi stated a return to Karpat next season is his most likely destination for 2020-21. Seeing as how his trade demands in the NHL have not been met, it makes some sense that Puljujarvi would stick to his guns and remain in the Finnish Liiga. It also helps that Puljujarvi was a superstar in Finland this season. His 24 goals and 53 points both led Karpat and were top-five marks in the league.
With that said, Puljujarvi also makes the important note that a deal is not in place with Karpat and he is keeping his options open. That could very well include the NHL, as he stated that his goal is to eventually return to North America. Would he be open to a return to Edmonton though? Puljujarvi actually revealed that he and his representation recently took part in a long phone call with GM Ken Holland and head coach Dave Tippett, neither of whom were in place when Puljujarvi last suited up for the Oilers. Usage was the main reason why Puljujarvi was so unhappy in Edmonton, but he does not know how that might change under this new administration. Puljujarvi called talks with Holland Tippet “good and constructive” and said that “it may be possible” he returns to the team, which is a major departure from his previous stance.
Should things not work out with Edmonton again this off-season and his rights are not traded to another NHL team, don’t expect Puljujarvi to move elsewhere in Europe. His KHL rights holder, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, has made an offer but Puljujarvi firmly stated that he would not sign with the team. He also acknowledged interest from the Swiss NLA, but again stated that he is unlikely to move their either. As a result, it seems Karpat or bust for 2020-21, with bust of course being a change of course in either Puljujarvi’s relationship with Edmonton or as a result of being traded to a new team.