If anyone in this market is qualified to write about Jesse Puljujarvi leaving, it’s me, because it breaks my heart. He is the hill that I decided to die on after he scored 13 goals, seeing limited ice-time, as a 19-year old during the 17-18 season.
Many people believe he won’t be in Edmonton to start the 2019 season, but I’m still holding out a glimmer of hope that Ken Holland and Dave Tippett believe in his potential and are willing to work with him because he does need work. As a guy who wants to see Puljujarvi find success here in Edmonton, I’m most concerned about TSN’s Bob McKenzie saying on TSN 1040 that while Puljujarvi wants to remain in the NHL his preference would be to do it elsewhere?
You know how the saying goes, if you love something, set it free, if it returns it was meant to be but if it goes on to score 20 goals elsewhere, blame everyone.
Here are five destinations that may be a fit if the Oilers do decide to give up on the former 4th overall pick:
This team really pops off the page and has been brought up pretty much every single time JP is mentioned.
The biggest positive for both the player and the Hurricanes would be that he’d be joining a team full of young Finnish players. Sebastian Aho not only starred alongside Puljujarvi at the World Juniors but also grew up playing with him in the Kärpät organization. If there was any player in the league Puljujarvi would feel comfortable being around it’s Aho.
The Hurricanes have already had success bringing in a Finn from another organization. Carolina traded for Teuvo Teravainen after he had mixed results with the Hawks.
They also recently signed 2017 2nd round draft pick Eetu Luostarinen who started with KalPa in Finland this past season. I had a chance to watch Luostarinen at the Spengler Cup and was very much impressed. I think he could develop into a solid second line centre for the Canes.
If one of the issues with Puljujarvi is his inability to fit in among his North American teammates Carolina would be the best place to try and make it work considering they are being driven by a pair of his fellow countrymen.
The Habs are somewhat similar to the Hurricanes as they already have three Finns up front. Jesperi Kotkaniemi impressed everyone in his 18-year old rookie season, Artturi Lekhonen is close to becoming an important piece of secondary scoring while Joel Armia flys under the radar as a versatile forward.
With young forwards like Ryan Poehling and Nick Suzuki in the pipeline, the Habs could add Puljujarvi to a young group of forwards that could end up leading the franchise to success.
The one area of concern for JP is that if it doesn’t work out in Montreal he will be hit even harder by the Montreal media than he has by a few members of the media here in Edmonton.
The Hawks just scored a huge victory with a player in a very similar situation to Puljujarvi. Dylan Strome had not be able to accomplish anything at the NHL level with the Coyotes, less than Puljujarvi.
Strome was drafted 3rd overall in 2015 and ended up playing just 48 games with the Coyotes picking up seven goals and nine assists along the way. Strome was given more opportunity in Chicago and made the most of it by putting up 51 points in 58 games.
The price to get Puljujarvi would be cheaper than it was to acquire Strome and for that reason, I could see the Hawks at least taking a look at it.
NEW YORK RANGERS
The Rangers find themselves in a position where picking up Jesse Puljujarvi, at a reasonable price, could make a lot of sense.
New York will not be contending any time soon but they do have a pretty good group of young forwards that Puljujarvi could compliment nicely. Kaapo Kakko will become a Ranger later this month joining Vitali Kravstov, Lias Anderson and Filip Chytil as the future core of the club, and if Puljujarvi finds his stride in the NHL, he would fit in very nicely with that group.
The Buffalo Sabres need to find a way to generate more offence. They were in the bottom third of the league in goals last season which was probably the key reason they decided to give a long term deal to Jeff Skinner.
Ralph Krueger was the bench boss in Edmonton when Nail Yakupov led the team in goals with 17 as a rookie. Could Ralph be the man to get Puljujarvi’s career on track? It may be worth a try for the Sabres.
WHAT’S THE RETURN?
I didn’t get into individual returns because I wanted to leave that up to you guys in the comments. I do wonder if the Strome trade is something we could reasonably expect from Holland as well. Could the Oilers package Jesse and another young forward for a player in his mid-twenties who can give you top six minutes? I’m not sure Holland can get that done but it would be the easiest type of deal to swallow for Oilers fans. Feel free to suggest any trade suggestions involving the five teams above. I’ll do my best to completely destroy all proposals in the comments section.