Last week, Dustin Neilson wrote a good piece on some teams that would potentially be interested in Jesse Puljujarvi this summer. After reading it, I started to think about what kind of deal the Oilers could make if or when they deal the former fourth overall pick.
First off, I’m completely ignoring the idea that the Oilers would throw Puljujarvi into a deal that’s strictly a cap dump. I’m certain that they wouldn’t use him as a sweetener in a potential Lucic for Eriksson deal and they wouldn’t attach him to Kris Russell in a deal to lose the defenseman’s cap hit.
Instead, I think they’ll use Puljujarvi to try to get a more proven NHLer. What could that deal look like? Well, I looked back at some past trades involving young, struggling NHLers to get a better idea.
RECENT OILERS TRADES
As of right now, Jesse Puljujarvi is three years removed from his draft year and has played in 139 NHL games. In that span, he has produced 17 goals and 20 assists, that puts his points per game (ppg) at 0.26 at the NHL level. I know that numbers aren’t everything, especially when you compare struggling prospects, but it’s really all we have when comparing Puljujarvi to other high-end prospects have been traded.
Nail Yakupov was the big one for the Oilers. The former first overall pick played in 252 games with the Oilers, posting a ppg of 0.44. When the Oilers dealt him, four years after his draft year, all they got in return was a low-end prospect in Zach Pochiro and a conditional third-round pick. That was a very small return for a guy who was just four years removed from being a first overall pick and produced almost half a point a game at the NHL level.
On July 10, 2013, they dealt former 10th overall pick Magnus Pajarvi, a second round pick, and a fourth-round pick to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for David Perron and a third-round pick. At the time, Pajarvi had played 163 games in the NHL and produced at a 0.35 ppg rate. Perron had produced at a 20 goal rate in five of his first six seasons in the league. The Oilers had to package in a draft pick to sweeten the deal, but they dealt a struggling prospect for a bonafide 20 goal scorer. That’s really solid value.
Justin Schultz wasn’t a first-round pick, so I’m not sure if he belongs in this conversation and all the Oilers got for him was a third-round pick at the trade deadline. Not a fantastic return either.
NOTABLE DEALS AROUND THE NHL
This past season, the Arizona Coyotes dealt off former third overall pick Dylan Strome, who had a ppg of 0.33 through 48 games, and Brendan Perlini. They sent the pair to the Chicago Blackhawks for Nick Schmaltz, who was coming off a 52 point season and had a ppg of 0.56 through 163 NHL games. The 23-year-old is a solid option as a middle six centre.
On June 15, 2017, the Tampa Bay Lightning dealt Jonathan Drouin and a sixth-round pick to the Montreal Canadiens for Mikael Segachev and a second round pick. Now, Drouin had a much better reputation than Puljujarvi currently does and was coming off a 21 goal campaign, but that was still quite the haul for the Lightning, they got a legitimate high-end prospect and a second round pick.
On August 25, 2016, the Arizona Coyotes acquired the contract of David Bolland and prospect Lawson Crouse, who went 11th overall in 2015, from Florida in exchange for a third round pick and another conditional draft choice. Crouse had 13 points in 83 career NHL games and was used to get rid of the last three years of Bolland’s $5.5 million cap hit.
The last example I wanted to bring up was Nino Niederreiter. When he was dealt from the Islanders to the Wild in the 2013 offseason he had just two goals and one assist in 64 career NHL games. Despite that, the Isles still got Cal Clutterbuck (who was a reliable 25-year-old bottom six forward) and a third-round pick. Niederreiter was a fifth overall pick who had pretty much no success at the NHL level and he still got them a bottom six winger who can score 10-15 goals and a draft pick.
WHAT TO EXPECT
I personally think the Oilers might be able to do what the Coyotes did earlier this season and package Puljujarvi with a player like Ethan Bear or Jujhar Khaira to try and acquire a more established NHLer. If they can use two assets to bring in a proven 20-25 goal guy, then they should be all over that.
It’s clear that Puljujarvi would prefer a fresh start elsewhere and given the place the Oilers are in right now, I think bringing in a more reliable piece than Puljujarvi would be a bonus.
The reason I say pieces like Bear or Khaira could be expendable is simply based on where the Oilers currently have a lot of depth. They have a handful of strong young defensemen in their system and while I see why some would prefer that they hold onto all of those pieces, there’s only so much playing time to go around and at some point, those young pieces will need to waivers to be sent to the AHL. Now might be the time to cash in on a young asset.
Up front, they have a good amount of options in their bottom six and while I really like what Khaira brings to the lineup if getting a solid top-six winger means giving him up in the trade, I believe the Oilers should do it.
Ken Holland has some big decisions to make and when he does pull the trigger on deals he needs to make sure the deal improves the team for next season. A deal for a scoring winger in their mid-20’s would definitely do that and that’s what I think they should be looking for when moving Puljujarvi.