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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.

  • MrDissapointed

    Perfect opportunity right now. Send Puljujarvi and Leon to the jets for Vesalainen and Roslovic. Jets get their playoff help, jesse and laine reunite, and Oilers get two prospects and 8.5 M space.

  • Soccer Steve

    Sending someone to the AHL isn’t like marinating a steak. The AHL is a really tough league full of desperate men who all want to make the show too.

    When has this kid shown anything? I don’t remember one moment watching him and thinking ‘wow, there’s a player there…’. At least Nail had flashes of talent. The Finnish GM passing on him at draft day should tell you everything. Good hockey minds knew he wasn’t worth the high pick. We have a dud. Better to get what you can now and just move on.

    • Datsyukian

      My thoughts exactly. One would think in 3 years a fourth overall pick would at least ONCE dazzle you with a great play or a goal. I mean, just once. Has not happened. I think his problem is between his ears and always will be.

  • Troyboy

    So at what point is this on the Player / Agent? The team has removed all coaching staff and the GM since JP has come to the team. You want confidence…. stay after practice and work on your One timer…. Being a Pro at anything is hard and takes lots of work. Seems like there are deals that were made to ensure JP Stays with the Big club as opposed to going to the AHL ?? Confidence and trust are earned not given, this isn’t Peewee hockey anymore. Time to put your Big boy boots on and go to work for the team that is paying you to play hockey. I hope JP is an Oiler for a long time… Maybe leave your Agent at home.

  • VvV

    He should just start over, Oil Kings should sign him, he can finish the year in the WHL, then spend all next year in then come up to the Oilers as a new 22 year old! I’m joking… Or am I… Not the worst idea, he needs to re learn hockey.