Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Poker Face

Even though absolutely nothing has changed in the impasse between Jesse Puljujarvi and the Edmonton Oilers since he first made it known publicly that he wants a fresh start someplace else, the Finnish winger and agent Markus Lehto keep re-stating their position. We get it, Jesse. So does Oilers’ GM Ken Holland.

It’s almost like Puljujarvi and Lehto believe if they keep talking, Holland will be coaxed into getting something done just to shut them up. Well, anybody who has seen Holland operate knows that’s not going to happen. Instead, a poker-faced Holland isn’t flinching. If something gets done, it’ll be on his terms and under circumstances that make sense for the Oilers.

The latest from Puljujarvi comes via Finnish television station Laari in post on TSN today. I don’t know if something is being lost in translation, which is possible, but Puljujarvi says, “I want a team where I get a place in one of the first two lines and where I get to play for 15 minutes per game. Then I could show what I’m going for. That is my main goal.”

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Yes, Jesse. Again, we know. I’ll resist the urge to go on and on that getting a place on the first two lines, as Puljujarvi puts it, with any team generally involves doing something to earn it. We have been back and forth on that aspect of this impasse – regardless of what else is happening here, as in how or if Puljujarvi fits in with this group — this entire off-season. Trade me.


All the while, Holland sits and listens. He’s holding all the cards and he’s not flinching, even with Lehto telling Helsingin Sanomat  Monday, “This is not a bluff attempt. Puljujarvi is and has been convinced that he needs a change. He is an NHL player . . . this is about getting an opportunity for a new start. The salary can be almost anything.”

Holland’s latest response to what he’s hearing from Lehto and Puljujarvi is very much the same, exactly the same actually, as what we’ve heard from him since the player and his agent started down this road. Matter of fact is Holland, resisting the urge to mention he’s got the superior hand in this back-and-forth.

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“I talked recently with his agent again,” Holland said. “Nothing’s really changed, so the next couple of weeks here I’ve got to heat up the phone lines and see if I can find a solution, otherwise Europe is probably the only solution. We’ll see what happens.”

As for “what happens,” if this was Pete Chiarelli at the table, we’d likely have seen something, as in Puljujarvi being moved down the road for next-to-nothing, by now. There’s no doubt in my mind that Puljujarvi will be moved and that the return won’t be very good – no surprise in that – but it will happen when Holland decides the timing is as good as it’s going to get on his end, not because Lehto and Puljujarvi keep talking.

Like I said before, I think Puljujarvi is making a mistake because he’s holding a losing hand with the money on the table, but it’s his career and his mistake to make. Things didn’t have to end up this way, but here we are. When you make a point of saying you aren’t bluffing, as Lehto just did, you usually are. It seldom ends well.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Svart kaffe

    Oh my how disappointing this Puljujärvi story has been. I was so psyched when we drafted him and now it feels like most fans have come to accept that it was a wasted 1st round pick we’re never getting back. He could even turn out to be untradeable and it would be fine at this point. He’s just not part of any plans any more.

  • Jay (not J)

    So now any team that was thinking of trading for him knows that if he were to go there he would expect minutes and role that he has demonstrated himself to be unfit for. Nice move.

  • Shameless Plugger

    What I find funny is, it’s the same people telling JP to earn a top six role are the same people who piss and moan that he doesn’t get his shot with so and so or he isn’t on the top PP unit. Oh how the worm has turned.

  • Vanoil

    Who cares?!?! The more you write about “how you think Puljujaarvi is making a mistake”, the more your bias towards him returning shows. No one wants him here anymore. Time to write him off, ignore all this useless banter and welcome in the poor sack of pucks we get as a reclamation project, and start writing about how to reclaim the new guy. Who cares if the kid is or isn’t making a mistake … move on.

  • CMG30

    I guess we will see how this plays out. As a strategy, I don’t understand it on JP’s part. The Oilers are not losing much of anything by him refusing to play. Maybe if he was a contributing points in games, having him threaten to play in Europe would cause some consternation… but he really isn’t bringing anything to the table at the moment that can’t be had for cheaper elsewhere. All he’s trading on is unrealized potential and that’s not worth much.

    For one, I hope he does play a few seasons in Europe. I have no issue acknowledging that Edmonton botched his development so now that he needs to clear waivers to go to the AHL, Europe is the next best option. Edmonton retains his rights so no matter what he’ll have to deal with the Oilers at some point if he wants to play in the NHL. All he’s actually doing is eating into his free agent time where players normally cash in (if they’re any good). In fact, if he really wanted to go somewhere else, he could just come in and play poorly enough that Holland had no choice but to send him down on waivers. Most likely someone would take a flyer on him based on draft position alone. Poof! Now he’s elsewhere!

    As for his idea that he needs minimum 15 minutes of top 2 line playing time per game… Well, he’s sure got some big brass ones for making such a demand. You win hockey games by playing as a team and as a team you need to fill the role that gives the team the best chance to win. If the coach feels that the team is better off with someone else filling top 6 minutes then suck-it-up-buttercup. Communicate with the coaching staff why they think this after the game and work on what you need to so that the coaches CAN play you top 6. Whatever you do, don’t let your ego show!

  • Abagofpucks

    i can’t believe he’s being led down the garden path like this by his agent, i feel sorry for jesse. one day he’s gonna wake up and his career is going to be in pieces.

  • joilers

    Jesse…. You used to be likeable. All you had to do was play half a season or possibly a full season in the AHL to further your development into a top 6 role. If you had a good year in the AHL it would have been impossible for NHL teams to forget your potential.

    Whining and refusing to put in the time into development have made you forgettable.

  • Soccer Steve

    Ryan Smyth, like a bag on garbage day
    Sheldon Souray, injury soap opera
    Nail Yakupov, bust or ruined?
    Taylor Hall, MVP
    Chris Pronger, forces trade
    Brandon Manning & Connor McDavid’s collarbone
    Devan Dubnyk, MVP/Vezina candidate
    Justin Shultz, 2 Rings
    Zack Kassian & Sam Gagner’s jaw
    Jordan Eberle, gone for nothing
    Drake Caggiula, gone for nothing
    Ryan Strome, gone for nothing
    Playoffs, 1 for 13 years
    4 GMs in 10 years
    8 Head Coaches in 10 years

    But yeah, Jesse, get OUTTA HERE WOULD YA! We don’t need you, you whiner!!!

  • Arfguy

    If he goes to a team and gets top 2 line role, Jesse will no doubt kill it. He is a great player and the Oilers will regret putting him a position to want out.

  • Pritchard

    This kid is clueless. He thinks he can just walk into any new team’s lineup and be a top six guy. Could happen some day, maybe even soon, but he comes off like he doesn’t think he has to earn it ? Oh Jesse….tsk tsk….you have much to learn young man