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Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jesse Puljujarvi’s agent questions client’s future in Edmonton

Nothing has gone right for the Oilers as of late. They’ve dropped eight of their last nine games, they’re closer to dead last in the league than they are a wild card spot, and it seems inevitable that they’re going to end up on the outside looking in at the conclusion of yet another disappointing season.

To compound matters, one of their supposed key building blocks moving forward is questioning his future with the organization. Per Mark Spector, Jesse Puljujarvi’s agent stated concern with his client’s future with the Oilers and suggested “going different paths” might be beneficial.

To say Puljujarvi’s season has been disappointing would be an understatement. The former fourth-overall pick came into 2018-19 labelled as a potential breakout player. The Oilers badly needed somebody to step up on the wings and Puljujarvi looked incredibly good and confident in training camp and the pre-season.

But it hasn’t translated to the regular season. Puljujarvi has just four goals and nine points in 45 games, which puts him on pace to produce even less than he did in an underwhelming 2017-18 season that he spent between Bakersfield and Edmonton. Worst of all, Puljujarvi’s confidence appears to be completely gone. He looks nervous on the ice, completely lost and terrified to make a mistake.

Still, it’s important to remember Puljujarvi is only 20 years old. He’s technically young enough to still be playing Major Junior. Why the Oilers refuse to give him extended AHL time — on a club that’s playing incredibly well nonetheless — is bewildering. As of right now, Puljujarvi’s confidence is eroding with each passing game he plays at the NHL level.

According to Ryan Rishaug, the Oilers have considered trading the young Finn if the right deal comes along. They’ve also considered sending him down to the AHL.

I would certainly hope the Oilers don’t rush to deal Puljujarvi at his lowest point of value. They’ve completely botched his development thus far and jettisoning him after just three years would be horrendous asset management. At the very least, if the organization doubts his future, they should send him down to the AHL where he can gain confidence, inflate his stats, and gain back some value.

Puljujarvi’s case reminds me somewhat of one we saw with Nino Niederreiter about a decade ago. A year after being drafted fifth-overall, the Islanders kept Niederreiter on the team despite him clearly being out of his depth. He played 55 games scoring just one goal. The Islanders would end up trading him in a wildly lopsided deal for Cal Clutterbuck just three years after drafting him. Niederreiter has gone on to become an excellent player.

The Oilers, I think, need to stick this thing out. They messed up rushing Puljujarvi to the NHL when he should have spent his post-draft year in Europe and his first year in North America in Bakersfield. They can’t travel back in time, but they can make things right by letting Puljujarvi develop in the AHL, like they’re doing with similar-aged prospects in Tyler Benson and Kailer Yamamoto.

The team is desperately in need of talent, but they can’t let their short-term needs get in the way of the long-term development of their key players.

      • Beer

        The truth is, he has the talent to be a NHL player, but his handling as a young man has been mishandled. Trade value just went to zero. He has a choice. NHL career or no NHL career. It’s up to to him.

  • CMG30

    Honestly it depends on who is coming back. Since this organization has shown no apatite to do what’s best for the player yet, he may be more valuable as a trade piece to bring back someone to fill the hole in the roster he’s been slotted in to fill for the past 3 years.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      This is a fair point. Nothing wrong with trading Jesse and having the kid do well elsewhere if we get back someone that can fill a top 6 hole effectively here.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      I think that would’ve happened already if it could. There is no good explanation for Jesse being on the 4th line other than his agent says if they send him to the AHL he won’t report and will go to Europe. I honestly think that’s what might be going on.

      • Any agent worth their salt would be telling JP he need to go to the AHL and bust his ass if he has any hope of being an NHL player. Its very obvious his game needs development on the north american ice surface.

  • kelvjn

    Best offer contact to retain rights, but leave unsigned RFA next year and let him play a year in Europe where he can build confidence. This way he can develop with top line minutes without the post-game midnight bus ride, the limelight, nor facing yet another premature recall.

    Unless things changed, Oilers will continue to use their two all stars to play all star game hockey 40% if the game, and they need a two way grunt type to dig up the puck rather than another offensive minded player on their line.

    Power play is how players score (5 on 4 sh% 9~16% league wide compare to 5 on 5 sh% 6~9%), but the PP 1st RW is taken for the foreseeable future, barring injuries. Jeese has a big shot but not yet developed defensive awareness to play point even on a rotational basis.

    Contrary to popular belief, an offensive European player does not have to be playing in NA ice to get acclimatized. Exhibit A is a 26 year old 2016 Calder Trophy winner, and Exhibit B is a certain player tearing it up in Vancouver. Getting the opportunity and license to make mistakes will be most important for him to reset now.