70
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.

  • Bills Bills

    This article makes me want to throw my phone into the ocean. Seriously WTF is wrong with the Oilers? Not one writer, blogger or fan has said that sending JP to the AHL for an extended period of development would be a bad thing. Not flipping one!!!

    Yet the brain trust at Oilers HQ can’t get it through their thick frigging skulls????

    This is maddening, I am 44 years old and watched this team through thick and thin and this last decade or so makes the Kay Stevens era of Eskimos look like a fond time of remembrance.

    It’s gross. Makes me want to puke.

    I feel incredibly exhausted as a fan. Do they know how tired we are?

    • VvV

      Puljujarvi clearly has a clause in place that he can’t go to Bakersfield for an extended period of time or he will demand a trade or head to Europe. That has been my speculation, and that was all but confirmed with the latest news, there’s no other explanation.

      • Jason Gregor

        I can tell you there is no clause that says he can’t go for an extended time. He played 39 games in AHL as a rookie. That was an extended period of time.

        • VvV

          I didn’t mean a literal clause in his contract, obviously he doesn’t have that. I’m talking a informal deal, a handshake agreement or his agent is holding them hostage where he we go to Europe or demand a trade if he is in Bakersfield for an extended period of time. He was in the AHL for 39 games in his rookie year, that was a couple years ago, things can change. You have a better idea as to why this is happening? Lord knows you won’t actually ask the Edmonton management when given the chance.

        • If we’re bringing up JP’s rookie season it needs to be pointed out that he didn’t earn anything past 9 games in the NHL and its for that reason that his contract needs renewal this offseason and we still don’t know what kind of player we have.

      • Bills Bills

        I am in Mexico until May and I even packed my McDavid jersey just in case. The last thing I want to stress about is the Oilers but as a fan I am a glutten for punishment I guess.

        • MontanaMan

          I am not an Oiler fan and never will be but fans like Bills Bills show how much passion and commitment Oiler fans have to an organization that in recent memory doesn’t deserve such loyalty. I have very little respect for the Oiler organization but a ton of respect for their fanbase. Hopefully better days ahead.

  • Deported to Ottawa

    No surprise. The Oilers are a terrible organization with a track record of missed draft picks, poor player development, and terrible results. JP has been mishandled from the start.

  • 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.

  • 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 Bakersfield 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.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Way back when TM was here I stated the Oiles ought to leave Jesse in Bakesfield, let him get his confidence back play a ton and have fun playing hockey again. I said before TM went that Jesse wont be back with the Oilers after the season, why would he want to come back and continue to gain no traction here, he is better off going overseas or if someone trades for him to go elsewhere and get in a system where they will work with him. The Oilers may want a sky high return, but I dont see them getting what they want in a trade, just not going to happen and they are in between a rock and a had place because the Only way Jesse is here next year is if there are no takers or he doesnt want to play overseas, o the Oilers make a deal with Jesse’s agent to trade him as soon as they can early next season otherwise he’s gone

    • The problem is JP’s agent wants to make money and is impatient. JP has never shown to be ready for a top 6 role in the NHL and he will never make a good bottom 6 player. So that should have made it obvious how he should have been developed – but honestly it beginning to look like his agent is in the way of letting that happen.

  • Shane

    Gregor said it best. Don’t let a 20 year old player dictate terms. If he doesn’t want to go down to the AHL too bad. I want to see this guy reach his potential in Edmonton to. But there are other good young players on other teams, in the same position. If Gretzky has to trade him for Necas, or Ghost or some other struggling young player, then it’s just another step in cleaning up this years mess.

  • 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.

  • Schmenge

    For all that holy; please send him down with the kids in Bakersfield; the confidence and fun, they are having there should also be experienced by Jesse.

    • Die Hard Oiler Fan

      Agreed. In addition it gets Jesse away from the “tire fire” in Edmonton. All this talk about “playoffs or bust” from Nicholson is a pipe dream, if not outright stupidity. It ws not that long ago that the Oilers actually held the second wildcard spot. Now they are 7 back of Min, and have been passed by numerous teams (St. Louis, Chicago, Arizona….). Per Tankathon website, the Oilers are currently 6th last in the entire league. This team is not making the playoffs ! Soon management will realize this (even if it takes being mathematically eliminated to get it through their skulls). Hopefully they are smart enough (and able) to trade some of the bottom 6 forwards and bottom pairing defensemen for some addional picks in the 2019 draft, and we go from there. It is going to take 2-3 years to recover from Chia’s incompetence. So what I’m trying to say is that it is probably just going to get uglier in Edmonton over the remainder of the season – no place for a prospect struggling with confidence. So for Godness sakes sit down with the kid and explain this to him, send him to Bakersfield, and let him contribute to a winning team, and enjoy the game again. It will be the responsibility of the new GM (and new coach ?) to make sure things change next year. Do not trade Jesse !!!

  • 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.

  • joilers

    I am pulling for Jesse but have always had my reservations about drafting him. Players who played in Europe before they get drafted are so hard to read because they play a very different brand of hockey. Its good hockey, but is generally a more defenseive game. His numbers before the draft did not elicit confidence in his offense. I would leave him in the Ahl for a whole season or trade him if he doesnt want to play there. Help him get his head around the north American game or get something back while he still has value.

    • Datsyukian

      How come he hasn’t figured what North American game is in his 3 (!) years in North America? I am not expecting perfection from a 20-year-old but the fact that he is no closer to figuring out the game than he was 3 years ago tells me something about his IQ as a player and as a person.

    • Exactly right. It really is a mystery why we went with the kid with 28 points playing in Finland over the son of an elite NHL player with 107 points and +45 in the toughest armature league in the world. This pick was beyond terrible.

  • camdog

    Earlier in the week the Oilers leaked to the media that JP is on the market aka his future in Edmonton is in doubt. He’d be a good fit in Chicago. Dylan Strome was a bust in Arizona, in Chicago he’s got 31 points in 34 games. That trade is likely going to push them into the playoffs.

  • camdog

    Besides that next year is the year of Evan Bouchard being pencilled into the top 6 on defence. He’s defensive game isn’t ready, but it’s the Oilers, that doesn’t matter until he’s a few years older.

    • ed from edmonton

      Who told you about Bouchard being pencilled in? PC? he’s gone. KG? We will see what the Oil D looks like in Sep but at the minimum Bouchard would likely need to leap frog both Jones (who barring injury seems a shoe in for NHL duty net year) and Bear (whi was IMO marginally better than Bouchard in training camp and even an injury plagued year in the AHL will improve his skills much more than Bouchard pummeling ten agers in the OHL).

  • McDude

    I completely agree. Don’t trade him now–the kid is young enough and shows enough flashes that I think he could still be a very good player. He should be in Bakersfield winning with the kids. If they’re dead set on playing him with the big club, he should be playing with McDavid.

    Essentially, what it boils down to is leverage, and he really doesn’t have any. If he threatens to sign in Europe, let him. Maybe when he decides he’s ready to come back he’ll have matured and be ready to star in the NHL.

  • 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.

  • Dark Knight Returns

    Guys guys guys. To be fair, the only agent that does not question his client’s future in Edmonton is Lucic’s.

    You think McDavid’s agent is happy? Sure, everyone is getting paid, but they could be getting paid AND winning.

    #FreeConnor

  • Fireball

    As much as I think JP has been somewhat mismanaged, I also think he hasn’t done a lot for himself. I love the kid. Bright young strong happy go lucky. Great character. Skating with the kids around town while other guys are vacationing. He’s had several shots at Top mins. I would had liked to see him put with McD for 10 whole games in a row and see what happened. Elite level prospect should have had been able to create some success for himself. It’s sad to see that it hasn’t come together for him. Yesterday I read his agent saying that the ship might have sailed on JP in the AHL with the Oilers.. The Oilers cannot afford to let the player dictate the terms. There’s only one choice here and that’s the AHL. Go down and be apart of something big. They’ve got something special going on there. Gain confidence and create chemistry with your future line mates. If not ?? You don’t report ?? Then Sit !

  • camdog

    If the Oilers had any brains they would have kept quiet until they hired a permanent GM and knew their draft position for next year. The Fin kid at number 2 might be really good. Finland is a small hockey mad country, everybody there knows the Oilers are bad. Our head scout in Finland is regarded as the Homer Simpson of hockey, he’s a joke over there.

    Besides that the time to trade JP is in the off season. The Oilers are out of the playoffs, a team trying to win the cup now doesn’t need a prospect at trade deadline. The only reason to float the idea of trading JP now is if the Oilers still think they can make the playoffs this season. Firing PC didn’t make them any smarter.

    • ed from edmonton

      Who do you know in Finland? I’m not sure if Jari Kurri actually works for the Oil, but he does provide some input. Apparently was really high on Koskinnen.

  • 50 Flex

    Oilers have mishandled him so poorly that simy putting him in the AHL right of the hop and completely forgetting that he was down there would have been better for his development.

  • CMG30

    Yes, Bakersfield is where he should have been for the past few seasons. The only reason he’s here now is because Hitch wanted to ‘unlock’ him. The only reason Hitch felt he needed to give this a shot is because of the horrendous lack of depth in the forward ranks of this team. That’s on this organization too. They couldn’t wait to move any prospect with a pulse for unknown reasons.

    • The Immortal

      No kidding….as I have grmbled before you can’t disagree that a lineup with slepy, hartikin…, pouliot, and one of ebs or hall would be miles ahead of this clusterf…this team is screwed for a few years

  • The Immortal

    Knowing the oilers are going to screw over yet another kid and his dreams of having a successful nhl career is mood killer at my draft parties.

    Worst sound any kid can hear..Änd the Edmonton Oilers are proud to select….

  • Heschultzhescores

    What he has. Decent speed, decent shot, and size. What he hasn’t shown. Hockey IQ, confidence, toughness, or the ability to find the back of the net. How they drafted him over Tkachuk is mind boggling. We paid a big price for all those 80’s cups. Great team on the ice, but not a single one of those 80’s guys has been successful off the ice in hockey, but their big heads wont accept the fact that they have totally ruined a once proud franchise.

    • percy

      Now all we need now is an owner that grasps that. Time to clean house Mr Katz, their legacy is shot, you might as well realize it. Their legacy is not worth the carriers this team is ruining.

    • Odanada

      They believe that the mojo of their 80s Cups can rub off on the current team. It is delusional and they are a disgrace to the sweater.
      They need to summon their sense of honour and retire, but not one of them will do that, will they?

    • ed from edmonton

      Thanks for a more realistic appraisal of what JP has shown. That is, not much. He is big and skates well. Other than that I can’t say he shown very much. Although he is big he doesn’t use his size very well, doesn’t knock people off the puck, doesn’t protect the puck. He plays more like a tall skinny guy than a tall thick guy. People often talk about shot. Can someone actually point to a goal he has scored due to an above average shot? All 4 of his goals this year have been scored near the crease. So the question is has he shown enough to warrant keeping him around or do you get what you can soon? A lot depends on what is being offered in return. MY biggest concern is that he has shown nor progress in almost 3 years in any obvious way. After three years of stagnation is it reasonable to expect new growth?

      Let me also say whatever has happened in the past is done. So whether JP should have stayed in Europe, been in the AHL or ECHL is water under the bridge. Who ever the new GM is, the JP file will be one of his first big decisions. I don’t think the interim group should do anything on the JP file.

  • blobbo

    Like any other trade, it depends on the return. The Oilers have been very good at trading one problem for a bigger problem, though. Keep him. He has zero bargaining power. His agent can shoot off his mouth all he wants; doesn’t matter. Reminds me of when Kassian apparently wanted out. That commotion died down fast.

    • ed from edmonton

      The only real option JP has is the KHL. I hope this doesn’t happen as the KHL has generally not been a good development league. There are a few exceptions like Pannarain and Donskoi. But at least as many who looked like something in the KHL who were wash out in North America (Omark, Belov, Grebeshkov, Kovalchuk).

  • Prairiechicken

    Does anyone else remember Todd’s response when asked why Jesse wasn’t playing higher up in the lineup (after a few games he was on the 4th line)?
    Todd went on about how he already is playing high up in the line up. It was obvious Todd was talking about the organizational depth chart. This comment and his minutes clearly reflected his thoughts on where Jesse should be playing but the organization was bull headed that they knew better.
    Ps .. why would an agent ever insist or push that their player not go to the AHL? Clearly that’s sometimes (like with Jesse) in the best interest of the player, and therefor their commission ….

  • Datsyukian

    Although the best way to deal with this would be to trade Puljujarvi for a decent return, I don’t mind putting him on the first line with McDavid and Draisaitl for the remainder of the season. It’s not like the remaining games matter anyways, so why not give the kid one last chance? In the meantime, Connor and Leon would get an opportunity to pad each other’s stats in the scoring race. The rest of the forwards in the lineup can do whatever they please, it’s not like it matters anymore who plays with who and how much.

    • ed from edmonton

      The danger of doing that is that it sends a clear message to the entire team that the organization has thrown in the towel for the rest of the year and they are playing exhibition games. Trying people out, winning is not the objective. If this does come to past and they play JP up the lineup and the team keeps getting blown out, don’t complain.