This comes from Oilers insider Tom Gazzola on The Oil Stream podcast with Dustin Nielson, his report being told that Jesse Puljujarvi is on his way out of Edmonton.
“I’d be surprised if he ends up in an Oilers uniform next year,” Gazzola said.
“The topic of a fresh start comes up again (with Puljujarvi). And it’s not the Oilers who just say, ‘We’re done with Jesse Puljujarvi.’ I think there’s a kind of mutual understanding that both sides are okay with moving on… It’s not, ‘Hey, they need him to play with experienced players.’ It just feels like it’s time to move on and everyone kind of agrees.
The Edmonton Oilers will be hot when the move happens, Gazzola, with critics saying the Oilers didn’t treat Puljujarvi correctly, that he’s making his teammates better.
But it’s time for him to move on, Gazzola repeated. “They’ve tried, time to move on and I think it’s mutual on both sides.”
Puljujarvi is seen as a nice boy, but he is not close to his teammates after years on the team, Gazzola said.
1. If the Oilers keep Puljujarvi, I’m fine with that. He’s a decent Top 6 winger, even if he played poorly in the play-offs. He pops pucks on the forecheck, passes well, goes hard to the net, screens the keeper like few others on the team and backchecks with difficulty. But if both sides of this equation, both Puljujarvi and the Oilers, are ready to call it a day, who am I to complain? Puljujarvi is a free man, a free agent, albeit limited, and under the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement, he is free to sign with any other NHL team. The Oilers can now trade him or receive a fee if he signs with another team.
2. The Oilers used the fourth overall pick in the 2016 draft to grab Puljujarvi, at a time when they could have drafted Matt Tkachuk or Mikhail Sergachev. But it’s a silly game to focus on this sort of thing. It is the rare player who turns out to be the best possible player who could have been drafted at any time. Puljujarvi looked like a hugely skilled player, a high-end attacking striker, perhaps a future NHL superstar based on his dominance at the World Jr. tournament.
3. I’ve written a lot about what I like in the player. What are his mistakes? He doesn’t seem to have any high-end offensive talent. He is a bit clumsy in his shooting. He seems a little nervous and often shoots straight at the keeper or misses the net on his best chances. He is generous with the puck and handles the puck and passes well, but he is not a player who regularly beats others one-on-one with stickhandling. He offers so much as a glue player that I think any team acting for him can put him on the first or second line as a complementary player, but I haven’t seen him ride a line at NHL level yet. I doubt we’ll ever see that, even though JP can certainly contribute to a winning team.
4. His playoffs have been so weak this year and his puck luck so bad that I fear he will be moved in part due to recency bias and bad luck shooting last year. That would be a mistake. Looking at his entire body of work, we see a player who consistently grew up as a two-way player at the NHL level. His game still has room to grow as he gets stronger and more confident. I suspect his best days as an NHLer are yet to come. It’s a shame they won’t be in Edmonton, but again, it’s a free country, and if both sides think it’s best for him to move on, I suspect it’s indeed best for Puljujarvi to have another NHL- to find a home.
5. As for the value of JP, we will find out shortly. Could Edmonton get a few design choices for him, say a second and a third? One would hope. How about a late first round? Could be. He is a better bet to perform at the NHL level than most late first rounds.