Photo Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Two Birds, One Stone

The Milan Lucic trade has basically elevated Oilers President of Hockey Operations Ken Holland to saviour status. Holland could not make another move the rest of the off-season, and Oilers fans would probably still give him a passing grade for what’s done so far.

In my opinion there are still two pieces of business that need to be taken care of. The Jesse Puljujarvi situation needs to be figured out, and in a perfect world an experienced third line center would be brought in via trade or free agency. I fully expect something to happen with Puljujarvi, but I’m not so sure Holland will be in a hurry to find a third line center. The Oilers have brought in numerous bottom-six forwards and, as of right now, Holland is obviously hoping someone like Gaetan Haas, Jujhar Khaira, Markus Granlund or possibly even Cooper Marody can fill the roll.

I can’t help but wonder if Holland will find a way to kill two birds with one stone by moving Puljujarvi in exchange for a third line pivot. There may be some other ways to move JP, but for this exercise we’ll take a look at how they may be able to land a center for the third line.

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$3,150,000 (1 year/UFA)

2019 Stats: 39gp – 4g – 8a – 12pts

Jean-Gabriel Pageau would be a perfect fit on the Oilers third line between the likes of Markus Granlund and Josh Archibald. The issue with a Pageau trade would be that Ken Holland most definitely would not be flipping JP for one year of JGP in a one for one deal.

The Senators would likely have to sweeten the deal with a draft pick or both teams could get a little more creative and the Oilers could include another contract to make sure the Sens are still above the cap floor. The Senators have three second round picks in each of the next two drafts.

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Proposed Deal:

To Ottawa: Jesse Puljujarvi, Sam Gagner and EDM 3rd in 2021

To Edmonton: JG Pageau and DAL 2nd in 2020


$4,100,000 (2 years/UFA)

2019 Stats: 64gp – 14g – 12a – 26pts

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are right up against the cap so I’m wondering if they would be willing to retain a million bucks on Bjugstad to move him. Bjugstad would be a nice pick up for the Oilers as he could be their everyday third line center, but also play on the right side in the top six when needed.

The Penguins have been speculated as a team that may have interest in Jesse Puljujarvi, and it would make sense considering the moves they’ve already made this off-season. Pens GM Jim Rutherford has already traded Phil Kessel to bring in Alex Galchenyuk and also moved out Olli Maatta for Dominik Kahun.

I don’t love the idea of moving Puljujarvi with no long-term assets coming back in return, but two years of Bjugstad at $3,100,000 would be worth it. If you think there is no way the Penguins would do this deal you need to remember they are desperate for cap space and even without Bjugstad their top nine would still look pretty decent.

I am by no means a Penguins expert, but I’d ball park something like this. I’m not even sure JP would find a spot in the Pens top nine.

Guentzel – Crosby – Kahun

Galchenyuk – Malkin – Hornqvist

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Tanev – McCann – Rust

Proposed Deal:

To Pittsburgh: Jesse Puljujarvi and Ethan Bear

To Edmonton: Nick Bjugstad (1,000,000 retained) 

The Oilers could afford to include Bear to get this deal done because they’ve got a number of other young d-men on the way. Is that too much? Not enough? I’m having a hard time getting my head around this deal.


Restricted Free Agent

2019 Stats: 58gp – 7g – 7a – 14pts

This would obviously be a different type of deal than the first two I proposed. Joel Eriksson Ek is a similar situation to Puljujarvi as a young player who hasn’t found his stride in the National Hockey League. 

Both players have registered 37 points so far in their young NHL careers, Puljujarvi has played 139 games, Eriksson Ek a few more at 147. We know the Oilers were fans of Eriksson Ek at the 2015 draft and a few members of that staff are still around. It’s a simple trade. Two players who could use a fresh start; a center for a winger, no reason to read into it any further.

Proposed Deal:

To Minnesota: Jesse Puljujarvi

To Edmonton: Joel Eriksson Ek


If I had to rank these deals in order of attractiveness for the Oilers I’d go with the following.

  1. Bjugstad (1,000,000 retained) for Puljujarvi and Bear
  2. Pageau and a 2nd for Puljujarvi, Gagner and a 3rd
  3. Eriksson Ek for Puljujarvi

What Say You?

  • Deported to Ottawa

    They won’t be getting Pageau in a deal that includes JP. At present I would be surprised if they can get anything meaningful roster wise for him. On top of that everyone knows he wants out.

  • Lowe enuf

    I fully agree that we should just move on. I sincerely hope that JP makes the most of his opportunities and opens the best pizzeria in Lillehammer. Anything less would be a waste.

  • Ken Holland

    If we send Gagner down you can replace him with the 3.2 million in cap space you save.

    We would essentially have over 6.5 in cap room when we send Gagner, Brodziak and Manning down.

    So many teams have RFAs to sign and no cap room to do it, we could make out like bandits.

    Our forwards would look like this with 6.5 million left to upgrade(Ehlers, Gusev, Kreider, etc).

    Draisaitl – McDavid – Kassian
    Benson – Nuge – Neal
    Granlund – Khaira – Chiasson
    Nygard – Haas – Archibald

    Klefbom – Larsson
    Nurse – Russell
    Jones – Benning

    Can swap out Benson with Chaisson if hes not ready, upgrade that position or the 3C spot with the cap space.

    Suprised no one is talking about this option.

    • The Whispererer

      When you send a player down you can only bury up to $1.075 of his Cap hit. Those three would still count approximately $4.4 against the cap. Add the $4.13 cost of buyouts on Sekera, Pouliot and Gryba plus the $750k retained on Lucic to the cost of your proposed roster $44 million on 13 forwards, $19 million on 7 defencemen,

        • Ken Holland

          So essentially when we bury Brozdiak and Manning we will save 2.15 mil in cap space.

          When we bury Gagner we free up another 1.075 adding 3.9 million in cap space to what we currently have. Capfriendly has us at 2.43 currently.

          That gives us potentially 6.4 mil in cap space if what your saying above is correct.

          It would increase to 8.4 mil in space if we can trade Gagner instead of sending him down.

          Am I following?

  • Moneyball

    puljujarvi and his genius agent solved a big problem for the Oilers. Let’s not waste that gift on a trade. Since PJ is not really an nhl player, but has enough potential to entice teams to pick him from waivers the oilers were really stuck this year. Having him go to Europe and develop on a European team will only increase his trade value. When you look at the oilers roster, training camp will be competitive and it doesn’t look like Jesse would make the cut anyway. The Oilers also need to set a tone with RFA’s so the team is not taken advantage of. Oilers management needs to play hardball with a player for once.

    • The Whispererer

      No. You are spending the savings twice. For instance, you save $1.075 by sending Manning down, but have to use $1 million of that to replace him with Persson, and ditto with the savings on Gagner and Brodziak. Your roster has only 22 players and cap space of about $2.1 million. Add it up.

  • Arfguy

    I will always take Puljujarvi’s side when it comes to the Oilers vs. Jesse. No one could do squat constantly being on a line with Lucic. Production dipped considerably when anyone played with Milan Lucic. Jesse should have been in the AHL the first couple of seasons, instead of being given the yo-yo treatment.

    I hope Jesse gets traded to a team that will use him properly.

  • Bob Lawblaw

    I think patience is the key with the wheelings and dealings done this off season. There is lots of time between now and training camp. The longer the UFA NHLer’s go unsigned the more the price comes down. There are also PTO’s and, as the article mentions, some teams are against the cap ceiling so they may get less rational. A veteran GM like Ken Holland might be able do some even better things for the Oilers.

    I am so pumped to get the 19-20 season underway and I’m starting to feel desperate for some Oilers hockey news as this (lousy) summer moves on. I need to be patient. It happens every year but especially this summer because of Holland. the people he’s brought in and the ones they’ve hired. I keep reminding myself Holland has full autonomy, and he’s in the process of molding the Oilers to be a highly competitive team and a perennial cup contender. The city and Oilers fans everywhere deserve it. Except for couple of first round wins against Dallas and Colorado in the late 90’s, pushing Carolina to game 7 of the final in ’06 and the run of a few years ago (I won’t mention the refereeing, grrr), it’s been a long dry run (29 yrs) since the cup win in 1990. Again, I believe patience is the key.

    I’m always an Oilers fan (yes, I’m a extremely biased) but I believe I’ll be able to hold my head a little higher real soon.

    Go Oilers Go !!!

  • stratedge

    The Oilers big need going forward is forwards who can score on good value contracts. JP and Bear for a 2 year rental is crazy talk. Eriksson is the most sensible target but the key there is they have to have scouted him well and really believe he’s better than JP.

    I still lean towards letting JP do his own thing for a year to cool off while retaining his rights is the most sensible approach.