Another chapter was added to the story of @Jesse Puljujarvi on Tuesday when the 4th overall pick in the 2016 NHL draft signed a one-year deal with Karpat in the SM-Liiga. The deal Puljujarvi signed will allow him to return to the NHL prior to December 1st if a trade is made or the player has a sudden change of heart. Here are a few tidbits on the current situation, his past and his future.
I found it very interesting that Oilers President of Hockey Ops Ken Holland told both Ryan Rishaug and Mark Spector that a few new teams have reached out to show interest in Puljujarvi. It gives me hope that a deal may still end up happening before the puck drops on the regular season.
THE ASKING PRICE
I believe it was Rishaug who suggested that if the offer for Puljujarvi is nothing more than a single draft pick that selection will still need to be a first-rounder. Holland is apparently also willing to accept a player ready to step into a top-nine role and an additional pick, an ask that I think is more likely to lead to a deal.
PRODUCTION WITH MCDAVID
It’s been widely speculated that Connor McDavid didn’t really feel like JP was a fit on his wing, which I’m fine with but I do think that leads us to forget that the big Finn was dangerous with the captain at even strength. During Puljujarvi’s three years playing alongside McDavid he produced at a clip of 2.06 points per 60 at five-on-five, as far as players on this current roster go nobody had a number greater than 2.06 this season with the exception of Leon Draisaitl.
Just this past season Puljujarvi had a CF/60 of 70.99 with the captain, the best total of any forward on the team that played at least 40 minutes at 5 on 5 with Connor. When you watched them play together the chemistry didn’t appear to be there but the numbers say otherwise, it’s a weird study, for sure.
IT’S ALL IN THE HIPS
Puljujarvi did manage to score 12 goals in 65 games as 19-year old getting limited time in the top six and on the power-play in 2017-18, a respectable total for a teenager, so what happened this year? I was told that Puljujarvi spent a good portion of the first half of the season complaining about his legs not feeling well.
The sense I got was that the coaching staff simply pushed this aside as regular soreness following games, which I totally get, but when the player has to have surgery on both hips following the season it leaves me wondering if the complaints should have been taken more seriously.
THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
I do believe that it looked like not just Puljujarvi but an entire second line was getting on track last year when he was playing alongside Nugent-Hopkins and Jujhar Khaira. The line showed some flashes prior to Khaira being suspended and HItchock never went back to them when Khaira returned to the lineup. I will always wonder if those three would have been able to become something.
A PLACE TO DEVELOP
Not only will Puljujarvi be joining a powerhouse club in Finland he will also be joining a team that has allowed young players to become a big part of the offence. Last season Panthers 2nd rounder Aleksi Heponiemi returned to Finland as a 19-year old after putting up huge numbers in Swift Current and finished with 46 points in 50 games for Karpat. Los Angeles Kings 2018 first rounder Rasmus Kupari was also a key contributor for Karpat last year finishing with 33 points in 43 games.
TIKKANEN CHIMES IN
Puljujärvi never really had what it takes to make it in #Oilers. He is a very skilled player but in Edmonton you just need to have something more. Believe me, I know!!
However all the best to Jesse. He makes upcoming #Liiga season very interesting 👍👍👍
— Esa Tiki Tikkanen (@tikitalk10) August 27, 2019
The best part about this is that Tikkanen describes himself in his Twitter profile as “LEGEND”. I’d agree.
LAST TIME HE WAS THERE
Puljujarvi spent 1.5 seasons playing for Karpat in SM-Liiga prior to being drafted by the Oilers. As a 16-year old he put up 11 points in 21 games and followed that up in his 17-year old season, and draft year, with 13 goals and 15 assists in 50 games.
WHAT ABOUT THIS YEAR?
I reached out to a source in Finland to ask him what the expectations will be for Jesse in his return to Karpat and the answer was a simple one, “he could start slow but should be a dominant player in the league by the middle of October.” The regular season begins on September 12th with Karpat facing HPK.
THE BEST OF TIMES
Let’s wrap up with a pair of goals against the Flames, even if one of them went in off his leg. You’ll notice he was on the ice with McDavid for both of them.
Previously by Dustin Nielson:
- Lucky Number Six
- TEN TIDBITS: August Edition
- Projection Season: The Hockey News
- Ten Way Too Early Predictions
- Mr. Holland’s Summer