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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

No KHL plans for Jesse Puljujarvi… probably… maybe

Early this morning, a Finnish hockey site kicked a hornet’s nest when they reported that Jesse Puljujarvi could be signing with Jokerit Helsinki of the KHL with an announcement coming as early as today. As it turns out, the team did reveal a couple of new players (Antti Niemi and Sami Lepisto) but Puljujarvi’s name was not among them, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it couldn’t happen in the future. So what’s going on? Let’s break it down together.

Looking at the reports and tweets that were coming out this morning, my first cynical thought was to wonder if using Jesse Puljujarvi’s name is just an easy way to draw in clicks. We all know that he’s struggled in his time as an Oiler and that he’s in line for a new contract this summer, which paves an easy path to the idea of him leaving for greener pastures. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Puljujarvi wouldn’t ever want to leave Edmonton, I could certainly understand why he might want a fresh start somewhere else, but I also don’t see any reason why he couldn’t get that here since we have a new coach and GM in town. Would it really be that tough a sell to tell the kid that Holland and Tippett are going to give him a clean slate to succeed when Chiarelli and McLitchcock would not? It’s possible.

From the release that started it all:

The club has been acquiring Jesse Puljujärvi from Edmonton Oilers. Jokerit will hold a press conference today at 11:00 am, where the club will publish two major player contracts, Antti Niemi and, most likely, Jesse Puljujärvi. Antti Niemi’s contract with Jokers is known to be two years old and Jesse Puljujärvi’s contract would be one year long.

First of all, there were a couple of issues with this premise with the biggest being that Jesse is still under contract with the Oilers and wouldn’t be able to sign anywhere else for another few weeks. Second, his agent told TSN’s Darren Dreger that Jesse is in Edmonton rehabbing and training for next season with the NHL being his first choice. Again, those two points don’t necessarily mean that Puljujarvi will be back with the Oilers come October, there is certainly plenty of smoke surrounding a potential exit, but it does lead us to believe that he’d rather be playing in the big dance rather than in the KHL. Will that be here in Edmonton? Who knows — we’ll have to wait and see.

Sportsnet’s Mark Spector also revealed chunks of his conversation with Puljujarvi’s agent, adding fuel to the fire that a trade could be in the cards while also leaving the door open for reconciliation.

Clear as mud, right? Yeah, I thought so too. Of course, and I’ve said this before, a player’s agent is literally supposed to do what’s best for his client and that includes lying to the media if need be. If he says that Puljujarvi wants to play in the NHL then I would tend to believe him, but I also wouldn’t bet the farm on it either. Put it this way, would you be happy if the guy that takes a percentage of your paycheque would be unwilling to tell half-truths and whole lies to a reporter that’s calling for confirmation on a rumour? Of course not. That’s why I have a hard time buying completely into what agents say when it comes to their client’s future plans. For all we know, Lehto could be using the media to leverage a bigger contract for his boy. Maybe he’s using this rumour as a chance to gauge interest from the rest of the league? Maybe it’s all bullshit?

THE WRAP…

Anyone that reads this website and follows the Edmonton Oilers knows that the start of Jesse Puljujarvi’s NHL career has not started the way we would have hoped. After getting drafted 4th overall, I think many of us expected Jesse to step into the NHL and contribute right away, something that hasn’t happened all that much in the 139 NHL games he’s played. Now, from where I blog, I would also put some (read: a lot) of the blame on the organization after crowbarring him into the league long before he was ready. So, to me, complaining too much about a 21-year-old not being ready for primetime is kinda like cracking an egg into your mouth and wondering why it’s not scrambled eggs. For me, this lack of success is on the organization for mismanaging his career and also on Puljujarvi for not finding ways to work his way out of it. Not every player is going to develop at the same rate, and I think that we all could work on remembering that a little bit before we get set to pull the chute on such a young guy.

That all said, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Puljujarvi rocking a different jersey next season. With the way things have been handled so far, I could understand how either the player or team would want to move on. At the end of the day, the Oilers need to win more hockey games and if Jesse Puljujarvi can be a part of making that happen either as a player or trade chip, then that’s what needs to happen. At this point, I don’t think anyone reading this cares more about any specific player not named Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl than they do about actually making a playoff run. All we know for sure is that Jesse Puljujarvi did not sign in the KHL today and, if you take his agent at his word, that doesn’t appear to be in the immediate plans… probably… maybe. I guess we’ll see.

PULJUJARVI’S NHL CAREER SO FAR

Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM +/-
2016-17 Edmonton Oilers NHL 28 1 7 8 10 5
2016-17 Bakersfield Condors AHL 39 12 16 28 10 -2
2017-18 Bakersfield Condors AHL 10 1 4 5 4 -2
2017-18 Edmonton Oilers NHL 65 12 8 20 14 -1
2018-19 Edmonton Oilers NHL 46 4 5 9 16 -14
2018-19 Bakersfield Condors AHL 4 2 2 4 7 2
NHL Totals 139 17 20 37 40

  • ziyan94

    Puljujarvi will have to earn his playing time but he will do well here once the roster gets better.
    He was flying in the preseason last year so we know he has the talent

    • Spydyr

      Preseason games especially early preseason games have very little in common with regular season games. It is not a yardstick I would use to measure a player by.

      • OilTastic

        And look no further than Ty Rattie, a guy who tore up juniors, did well in the AHL, and in pre-season as well, only to be exposed as a guy who can’t score in the NHL when it gets real !

        • Kneedroptalbot

          And in the mean-time Ken Hitchcock rolls out the Identity (slug) Line for another game. How are we suppose to develop good young players like Cagguila and Pulijujarvi when Hitchcock keeps dressing up and rolling out Brodziak/Lucic/Kassian. Sheeesh what an outfit!!

          • That line existed for a short time when Hitchcock first joined the team. Hitchcock put that line together because he knew those players and having a line of known players was useful when getting to know the other players. Hitchcock specifically addressed this in his post game interviews.

    • TKB2677

      I agree with you. I think the Oilers did not develop JP properly but I also don’t think he did his part either.

      I keep hearing rumbling from multiple media guys that he wasn’t too keen on being in the AHL. He stayed in Edmonton this year to rehab. Apparently that’s a big deal. Why? He’s been in the league for 3 years, it didn’t go well. Language is still an issue for him. Why after year 1 didn’t he stay in Edmonton to train with the team people and be in an English environment? After it went crappy a second year and language was still an issue, you’d think being in Edmonton all offseason was an automatic. It wasn’t. Why?

      I am not letting the Oilers off the hook, they played a massive role in this but I also look at the player. A team can suggest you do a certain things but it’s up to the player to do them. So I see blame on both sides.

      • Hemmercules

        This is what I believe as well. Both partys can share the blame, the Oilers more of it for sure though.

        Once you draft a player and sign them to an entry level contract, you dictate what happens to that player. Seems like JP and his agent may have been making demands when he hadn’t even cracked the NHL lineup yet and the team obliged. Maybe Chia was just that stupid and actually thought he was ready or just wanted to develop him in the NHL instead? They should have immediately sent him to the AHL and hired him an English tutor in Bakersfield if he didn’t have one already. They were blinded by some little stretch he had in a world tournament and thought he was ready for the big time at 18. First round picks go straight to the NHL on the Oilers and that needs to change. Let’s hope Holland fixes their development process.

        • TKB2677

          I think the fact that the only Finnish GM in the NHL passed on him shows he knew there was red flags with JP. Early in his draft year, JP was the ranked higher than Laine. Laine had a big second half that put him ever so slightly ahead of JP but there were still some talk that JP could potentially go ahead of Laine. When Columbus passed on JP, it was a complete shock at the draft because I think every media guy and draft person had JP going at worse at 3. Brian Burke who was with the Flames at the time has said it repeatedly they would have taken JP at #3 and they had a trade all worked out with the Oilers but as soon as JP fell, it was off the table.

          So again, I think the Oilers did not do right on JP but Columbus knew something to pass on him so clearly there was something up with him where they thought that even if he was “Developed correctly” he wasn’t worth a #3.

          • Glencontrolurstik

            It was his hip issues, a genetic growing bone disorder that is quite rare & re-occurring through life if not treated. Apparently it’s treated through surgery and recovery rates are high. This issue may have been why #1 Columbus passed, as they obviously are after instant results based on trade deadline deals. #2 partly why he hasn’t performed to expectations… I am one guy that thinks he’ll be the most improved player on this team & maybe even the conference… I think he’ll show he was worth a 3rd round pick, because of a successful surgery.

          • RJ

            It doesn’t need to be some conspiracy theory on why CBJ selected Dubois:

            they’ve had a need for a #1C for a long time. Dubois looks like he’ll be that guy for them. It’s as simple as selecting a player based on need/position.

    • OILERSORDEATH

      Maybe you are sure of that , but we all forget hes only 20 and with the right guidance and coaching, plus some confidence I think he will proof all you wrong. Hes need to be held accountable as well. It’s not all on how the Oilers handled him ffs.

      • TKB2677

        Right now JP is not an NHLer. I do agree with you that with proper guidance and coaching, he can be an NHLer. What I question is even if the Oilers would have had him in the AHL for multiple years, I am nut sure he would be anything more than a 3rd liner.

    • OilerForLife

      Yes, they shouldn’t have burnt the 1st year of his entry level deal, this is the classic example of why the majority players should be overripe. Now him accepting a one year qualifying offer, is the only thing separating him from going to another league. Temporary or permanently losing a highly drafted player is unacceptable. Having said that I think they should convince him of signing the offer and proving he can play in this league, under new coaching. He may take longer that most to adjust to the NHL game and rink size, but he’s still worth a look see, because his trade value is diminished, and they have nothing to lose a this point.

  • Odanada

    I would like to see Jesse play a more physical style that utilizes his size and strength. Too many times I’ve seen him forechecking and have a guy lined up perfectly for a crushing hit and just wave his stick as he skates by.
    Can you teach this pup some new tricks?
    Why not get the Looch to mentor him in hitting and maybe they’ll find their scoring game together.
    2 birds, one stone. Think Holland and Tippet could work that miracle?

  • Moneyball

    Puljujarvi should have been traded 2 years ago when all the signs were pointing towards him being at best a third liner. The Oilers could have got a real haul out of dealing him, now I would be happy for an aging Dman outside his prime or a backup goalie. It think PJ is a quite a ways away from being an impact player or for that matter an NHL player but its time to trade him now while there is still a modicum of value for essentially a #3 draft pick. Maybe a later first round pick or an early second round pick would be reasonable too.

    • Hemmercules

      Nice, I actually laughed out loud on that one. Toss him in the bin. In true Oilers fashion, develop him in a strange way for a few years and toss him for whatever ya can get.

  • CMG30

    There is a lot of blame to go around regarding the JP situation. Most of it I lay at the feet of the previous regime. However, what’s done is done. Going forward what is the best thing to do?

    I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe JP will need to clear waivers going forward. So basically he’s with the big boys if the club doesn’t move him over the summer and playing limited minutes in the NHL is clearly not the best place for him to be. So where else can he go? I wouldn’t shed a tear if he decided to play a couple seasons over in Europe. Again, I may be wrong, but Edmonton should retain his NHL rights in this situation but it would give JP some time to develop before rolling the dice on a return to Edmonton to revive his NHL career.

    • Hemmercules

      It’s beyond ridiculous what they have done with this kid to have him be waiver eligible at this age and point in his career. I wonder if Holland tests the waters and eventually risks it and sends him down if there is no interest. Loaning him to the KHL would be ideal at this point.

          • OilTastic

            @Randaman….so what you say? you’d rather we try to send Jesse down and have him get claimed and we get absolutely nothing for the former 4th overall pick? more great Oiler asset management there !! no wonder we continue to suck year after year….

      • TKB2677

        Every NHL team would put in a claim for Puljujarvi if he is put on waivers.

        If there is an option to send him to Finland to play, I think they should do it. He needs times to play in a lesser league and hope he can improve. He’s not ready.

        I more think he will end up being part of a trade package. I think his value is not much. You could get some other teams failed prospect. I am not even sure he’s worth a 2nd right now. I could maybe see him plus the 8 to a team to move up in the draft a few spots.

  • I sure would like to see the Jets get him as they have the depth to keep him on the Moose and let him learn the NHL game before promoting him and playing him on the 3/4th line. The big question is what would the Jets reasonably have to give up to get Pully?

    • The Whispererer

      You must have missed some of the above comments. The issue is that Jesse would have to clear waivers to be sent down to the AHL; last time i checked the Moose were an AHL team.

  • Total Points

    He should play in Europe next year to get his confidence back. I don’t think he needs to clear waivers if he signs a contract in Europe, Oilers still retain his rights and he comes back when he is ready.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    As soon as I heard “Puljujarvi’s maybe going to sign with Jokerit,” my first thought was “Jari Kurri to the rescue.”

    Yes, it’s those three words everyone loves to hate: Old Boys Club. Only, this time, maybe it’ll have some tangible use.

    I mean, think about it. Jesse’s KHL rights aren’t even with Jokerit, are they? So why Jokerit then?

    Again … I think it’s gotta be Kurri. He isn’t only Jokerit’s GM – he recently bought the team. He has all the pull in the world to pull this off and, recent purges aside, plenty of connections in Edmonton.

    And I don’t think this is a poach-job. I’m wondering if Kurri didn’t call up Holland (or maybe W.Gretzky) and say, “Hey, Jesse can’t go down to the AHL now, mid-season, without clearing waivers, so how about this? How about we bring him over here for a year, play him a ton, let him get his groove back and he goes back to you in either spring or fall 2020 a better player?”

    Or heck … maybe Holland called Kurri and pitched the idea to him.

    Does that sound crazy?

  • Kneedroptalbot

    And in the mean-time Ken Hitchcock rolls out the Identity (slug) Line for another game. How are we suppose to develop good young players like Cagguila and Pulijujarvi when Hitchcock keeps dressing up and rolling out Brodziak/Lucic/Kassian. Sheeesh what an outfit!!

  • In Chia I Trust

    There is no way he signs with he Oilers. His entry contract is over and management’s rights are more limited than you think. He’d want $9 mill for 3 years and isn’t worth it and the Oilers can’t afford it. This is his chance to show what he’s got (remember it’s a Finnish team in the KHL). He is gone, for now. The Oilers will still have his rights. Does nobody see what’s happening with the Swedish buildup. Nylander will be here – part of the price will be the 8th and Benning.

      • Ken Holland

        Nylander at 1 million per goal.

        7 mil a year for a career high 35 points(5×5).

        Do we really need another player with Lucic type production without the hits?

        Do not buy into the Toronto Hype. This guy is extremely overated.

  • OilCan2

    The car is going to crash if you keeping looking ONLY in the rearview mirror. I would offer him $4M over three years. The team then has control and his best years are ahead of him. The repair job on his wheels is most likely going to work out fine and his fresh start will be a new coach and GM.

  • Kelly Youngblood

    What about those JP to Carolina rumour, for Julien Gauthier ? I could see JP flourishing with all those highly skilled Finns. Gauthier at 6’4, 224 lbs and plays RW was 21st overall in the same draft. 27 goals in Charlotte last year. Could be a good move for both sides. I’d take a chance on Gauthier over Olli Juolevi if I had the choice between the two.

  • OriginalPouzar

    So, Puljujarvi is a bust but Benson is a top prospect, yet Benson is older than Puljujarvi (as are Marody, Jones, Bear, Lagesson, Joe G.). Yamamoto is only a couple of months younger than Jesse.

    We all love Benson and his potential and, sure, his arrows are pointing much better than Jesse’s, but I would posit, if Jesse got the entire year in the AHL (and didn’t have hip issues), we’d be excited for Jesse’s potential as well.

    • TKB2677

      I agree with you that it doesn’t seem fair but there is a big time difference between a guy drafted 4th overall vs a guy drafted in the second round. Guys drafted in the second round are expected to take longer to be something. I fully agree that the Oilers did not develop JP properly at all. Typically when any team drafts a player in the top 5, a 1st overall is usually in the NHL right away. For the rest, maybe they don’t make the NHL right after being drafted but they are typically expected to take very little development time before they make it because they are that good and that close. Maybe they aren’t a dominate player but they should be a full time NHLer real quick and doing something. But in the case of JP, it’s pretty clear he wasn’t even close to being ready which maybe indicates he shouldn’t have been take with the #4.

      So while I agree that the Oilers screwed up big time with his development, after 3 years, he’s not even an full time NHLer yet. So that is a big time problem and I don’t think it’s all on the team. After 3 years, even if he wasn’t developed properly, a 4th overall should be able to be a bottom 6 NHLer and he’s not.

      • Redbird62

        Jonathan Huberdeau drafted 3rd in 2011 – Played 2 more years of junior, made the NHL in his 3rd season with a Florida team with very few high skilled forwards. Jonathan Drouin – drafted 3rd in 2013 played another year of Junior then 2 years with 3rd line minutes. Dylan Strome was taken 3rd in 2015, and played 2 more years in Junior and most of his 3rd year in Tuscon. Arizona gave up on him early in his 4th season and he proceeded to score 51 points in 58 games with the Blackhawks. There are many more examples of players drafted in the 3-6 range who are not ready to be NHL 1st or 2nd line players right after the draft or even in the first few years.

        The Oilers made some mistakes with Jesse’s development, but it is still too soon to say he is a bust. His second season was actually NHL caliber, but he had some rough patches last year due to confidence issues, perhaps injuries and maybe even deployment. This last problem extends to all Oiler forwards, but Jesse played on 81 different line combinations last season, with only 3 more than 50 minutes but just barely. Some of the data is effected by shift changes on the fly, but he had 45 combinations for more than 1 minute. That’s hard for any player to adapt to but doubly hard for a young player trying to find his game.

  • Heschultzhescores

    Jesse was a poor pick from the get go. Zero hockey IQ, and has never excelled on the small ice. How our scouts picked him still amazes me. Duped again.

    • OriginalPouzar

      The scouts must have missed his poor pre-draft performance on the small ice because he never played on the small ice prior to the draft.

      That was just a pure made up statement to propagate a narrative.

      • Heschultzhescores

        The point is, why take a chance on a guy who has never excelled on the small ice? Many skilled players disappear when the game gets too tough for them on the small ice. It’s a different game, that needs to be factored into the draft. So no, it’s not a made up narrative

        • Redbird62

          Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Backstrom, Barkov, Sedin, Sedin, Lindholm, Petterson, Laine – a list of several of the European born players drafted in the NHL top 5 who had virtually no small ice experience prior to their draft other than maybe 7 games in a WJCU20 or WJCU18 tournament held in North America – just like Puljuvarvi. I guess you wouldn’t have picked any of them on that basis either.

    • Redbird62

      Every major draft ranking had Jesse at number 3 and one even had him at 2. Did Jarmo have special knowledge on Jesse or did he he pick Dubois, who was ranked very closely behind Jesse, but was a center. Hindsight is pretty easy, but virtually every other GM in Chiarelli’s position would probably have taken Jesse at number 4 not that they will tell you that now. I hope Holland and Tippett don’t give up on him too soon. He is only 20.