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Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

Patience Needed for Puljujarvi

Hello from Vancouver. I’m excited to report that Jason Strudwick found a way to only have a carry on for our three-night trip to the NHL draft. The fact it was even a discussion still blows my mind.

But I digress. Let’s talk about the draft, Jesse Puljujarvi, overpaying pending free agents and more.

Early this morning Darren Dreger tweeted out that Jesse Puljujarvi, and his agent, would like a trade out of Edmonton. This isn’t a surprise as we have discussed it the past month, but with all 31 GMs present in Vancouver the possibility of a trade might be increased.

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Personally, I don’t see much changing on the Puljujarvi front. He is frustrated. The past three years have not unfolded how he’d hoped, and I’m sure the Oilers organization feels the same. But unlike the previous regime I suspect Holland will have a patient approach with Puljujarvi.

I’ve argued for three years the Oilers botched his development. They rushed him to the NHL at 18 and then sent him to the minors for the final 39 games of the AHL season. That was the smart move, but then they had him back in the NHL at 19 and he still wasn’t ready.

Last season he, like many forwards not named McDavid, Draisaitl, Nugent-Hopkins and Chiasson, struggled out of the gate. Then the Oilers sent him to the AHL where he produced four points in four games. He had fun playing again, but then the Oilers erred again and recalled him. A few weeks later he was injured and had season-ending surgery.

The Oilers are responsible for not putting him in the best position to succeed, and Puljujarvi holds some responsibility as well. Ultimately the player has some control over how he plays or reacts to the situation, but for me I hold the Oilers more responsible.

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WHAT NOW…

Ken Holland can grant Puljujarvi’s wish and trade him this week or next, when the majority of trades occur in the offseason.

Or he can do nothing and let Puljujarvi play in Europe for a season.

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Since Puljujarvi was injured I argued a year in Europe might be the best for his development. He could hopefully regain some confidence, and start to show the potential that many NHL scouts felt he had when he was drafted 4th overall in 2016. It wasn’t just Oilers scouts who liked Puljujarvi.

I don’t see Holland rushing into a trade. Let’s pretend Puljujarvi didn’t ask for a trade. He wasn’t going to be looked upon to be a difference maker in the Oilers lineup this year. He likely would have started on the third line. Or maybe he and the Oilers would have agreed a year in Europe would have been the best option.

The Oilers don’t need to rush to trade him in my eyes.

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HOW GOOD CAN HE BE?

I honestly don’t know. I’ve looked at the history of many Finnish forwards and many of them didn’t have success in the NHL until they were 22 year or older. Puljujarvi has a huge frame, and he is still growing into his body. He works incredibly hard, but you can’t rush time and he needs more time to get stronger and be able to maximize his size.

That could occur next year or the year after, or he might never be the player many felt he would be at the 2016 draft.

Three different scouts from around the NHL texted me their response when I asked how they view Puljujarvi.

Scout one:

“He never looked comfortable to me. He clearly didn’t have any confidence and wasn’t making plays. Can he get it back is my main question. I like how he skates, he is good at protecting the puck, and when he plays his game he is a good shooter. Three years ago I thought he’d be a top-six player for sure. Now I think he might be more of a third line player.”

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Scout two:

“No doubt they rushed him, but my question is does he compute the game quick enough to be successful in the NHL. I didn’t see him make many right decisions with the puck. No confidence could be a factor, but for me the biggest question now is how well does he think the game. He also has to move his feet more and stop always reaching for pucks.”

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Scout three:

“I haven’t seen any growth in his game since coming to Edmonton. Yes, he wasn’t ready, but I haven’t seen much improvement in his puck skills or in his reads and reacting to the play. I didn’t see him win many battles. He is still very young, and might be able to show the skill we saw in his draft year, but I’m much more skeptical now.”

Three NHL scouts who do this for a living aren’t sure what he will become, but there are more questions now than three years ago.

It will be interseting to see how Holland handles this situation, but after many years of the Oilers not using patience on Puljujarvi, I suspect we will see Holland use patience.

DRAFT PICK…

I enjoy all the rumblings and speculation leading up to the draft. I’ve read a lot of speculation suggesting the Oilers will select Philip Broberg with the #8 pick. Anything is possible on draft day, but I would be very surprised if the Oilers call his name based on numerous conversations I’ve had, and the depth in their franchise.

I agree with the theory ‘best player available’, but is Broberg clearly that much better than the other players who will be available in that slot? It will depend on the Oilers scouts, but I’d be quite shocked if his name is called on Friday night.

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  • Vanoil

    Suck when you don’t do your diligence and take a player with low Hockey IQ that high in the draft. Yet, surprise the same scouts are in charge of this draft … Hmmm. Everyone but Columbus ignored the elephant in the room. How good does Kekalainen look now ?!?!?

  • Hockey_Fan

    A lot of blame being spread around regarding the development of JP. It is possible that he’s just not the player he was projected to be. Sometimes prospects don’t live up to their draft position regardless of effort and development.

    • joilers

      Jesse needs to be resilient despite adversity. Yes he is skilled. Yes he has size. Yes you should have spent more time in the AHL. But where’s your heart kid? Top 5 draft picks often go up and down for a while but have the resiliency and determination to learn from every bump in the road. What have you learned? Exhibit a… Draisatl…. Up too soon sent back to Jr… Learned from all of it and got better at every step.

      It’s either a problem with skill or a problem with resiliency. Jesse better hope it’s resiliency.

  • YFC Prez

    Nation brass.

    I frequent this site very often. Have for at least 10 years. Don’t really post anymore but still read basically daily.

    You guys just killed an entire months worth of my data plan from the past couple days of quick reads here and there. These videos are not good for the site. Theyre anuisance and cause the site to error out and need to reload. The amount of data these videos suck up is insane.

    I like the site. But I shouldn’t need a extra 5 gigs a month just dedicated to this forum.

    I understand add revenue is key to your business. But my oilersnation routine is at an abrupt standstill until I can come on here again without sucking up my entire data plan. Thanks for your time.

  • toprightcorner

    The only player ranked in the top 15 that I would be disappointed that the Oilers picked would be Broberg.

    Doesn’t have great hockey IQ and not great at passing the puck. Sure he skates great, but limited hockey IQ means limited potential.

  • toprightcorner

    The biggest issue with the Oilers picking JP is that they never did their due diligence. They never expected him to fall, so they never took the time to get the proper intel on him. A team should always study players that are not likley to fall to them.

  • joilers

    Almost all hockey pundits had him at 3. Can’t blame the Oil on that one. I would rarely draft a player out of Europe this high in the draft as it is a very different game… Hard to translate what it might look like in NA. All that said…. Analysts everywhere had him at 3.

    Yes, Kekalainen does deserve a lot of credit on that draft though. He saw something no one else did.

    • RJ

      From what I remember, it was Matthews, then Laine and then JP on every mock draft I saw. Nobody had Dubois going third. He was the consensus third pick, so the second-guessing when he didn’t light it up the way Matthews and Laine have is a bit of revisionist history. Yes Chiarelli was a bad GM, but picking the consensus 3OV wasn’t a huge mistake.

      But after he was drafted, having his play a season or two in the AHL should have been the move. And they screwed it up.

  • Moneyball

    Simply put Puljujarvi has one good tournament that set his draft status and not much else. I was one of the few watched his game and thought there was a heck of a lot of development risk with this kid. Now that he has played his cards, make him the minimum qualifying offer, let him go to Europe, save on cap space and wait for the best trade offer. Personally he doesn’t seem like much of a team player the oilers don’t need him.

  • MrBung

    Draft bust. Another Yak from the standpoint of having physical assets and some degree of skill but not the ability to process the game in the NHL. Some guys have it and some don’t. These guys are more Oil whiffs and another reason this team is a shi*t pile and can’t make the playoffs.

    • Big Nuggets

      yeah, personally I’m more excited with the open roster spot than I am with trying to develop Puljujarvi into an NHL player. It means they have room to resign Chiasson or someone else, or trade Russell for a forward.

  • McDude

    If I’m Holland, I don’t give a crap that he wants out. You’ll get nothing for him if you try to trade him now, unless he’s included as some sort of package, and even that’s iffy.

    Call his bluff. Make the qualifying offer and see what he does. I don’t think playing in Europe for a year is a bad thing. If the worst happens and he sucks over there, you’re not really any worse off. If he scores in bunches, you might be able to get something for him.

    If he decides not to go to Europe, you sign him to a 1 – 2 year show me contract, construct a plan for him, and tell him to shut up and play. The fact is, the only card he has to play is the Europe card. If he wants to play in the NHL, he’s stuck with the Oilers. There’s still a chance he’s a player, so I certainly don’t give him away for nothing.

    Yeah, I understand the Oilers made mistakes with him, but I think a lot of it is on him. You think you’re an NHL caliber player? Go out and play.