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Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland on Jesse Puljujarvi trade: ‘What I’m trying to do is clear some cap space’

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Photo credit:nhl.com/edmontonoilers
Zach Laing
11 months ago
Edmonton Oilers GM Ken Holland spoke to members of the media on Tuesday morning a few hours after trading forward Jesse Puljujarvi to the Carolina Hurricanes for Finnish prospect Patrik Puistola.
Holland spoke at length about Puljujarvi as a player, but was rather ho-hum about the prospect they picked up. Cam Lewis did a deep dive on him here, but it sounds like the Oilers will keep an eye on him the rest of the year and make a decision on signing him. Edmonton would lose his signing rights after June 1st.
The main takeaway from Holland’s press conference: this was a move to clear cap space. The Oilers gain just under $3-million in cap space with the move and according to CapFriendly, the team has $3.562-million in space to work with right now.
I tuned into the press conference, and here were some of the big quote takeaways:
On how difficult it was to trade Puljujarvi: “I called jesse (and his agent) in around two weeks ago… That I would be interested in jesse being part of our team going forward next year that we could not qualify him based upon a whole lot of things. I told him I was ready to negotiate a one or two-year contract extension at a reduced salary probably in the 1’s and would they be interested in doing that. They talked, came back and Markus Lehto told me that they weren’t opposed to the money, but thought it was probably better to get a fresh start. From that time, I knew that his days would be numbered here in Edmonton.
What I’m trying to do is clear some cap space to do something between now and Friday. I’ve had chats with Don Wadell even when Jesse was over in Finland. There has been some interest in Jesse going way back. It worked out probably good for Don Wadell and Carolina, and good for us and good for Jesse. I met with Jesse this morning and my take was he was a little mixed emotions. He’s starting to be part of the group and liked the group, but I also think he understands this is a new opportunity in the National Hockey League.”
Holland was asked if there was a gm in the league who wouldn’t have selected Puljujarvi 4th overall at the time: “No. The NHL entry draft is a bit of a guessing game. If you look at the guide and record book at the past drafts, sometimes the player in the fifth round is better than a lot of the players in the first round. Jesse was going top-five in the league in the draft that year no matter who was picking. When I got here. I got some teams call, but nobody offered up anything we would’ve even considered as a deal.”
“We get Evander Kane, we get Zach Hyman, the growth of the team, Yamamoto and there’s more competition — his role was diminished. Saying all that, I tried to sign him to a deal to keep him here because he’s an NHL player. In a cap world, cap numbers force you to make decision. [Puljujarvi] was a top-five pick, I don’t care who’s picking. Top three, top four. It’s a disappointing day on one hand because he was the fourth overall pick and you’re hoping that pick is going to have some significant impact on your team. I’d like to think Jesse has done everything he could do to the best player he could.”
Holland said the oilers want to get to a 21-man roster. Said the team has good success playing seven defencemen.
On if a potential team dealing a defenceman to the oilers needs to eat money: “I got to do a deal. There’s many ways to do a deal. Your way would be one of them.”
On how many options the Oilers are exploring to improve their defence: “As many as I can.”
On how confident he is at upgrading the top-four on d: “There’s a few players out there we think would fit. It’s not just the player, it’s the assets, it’s the cap. Today, by moving Jesse I’m hoping it’s step one. I’m hoping there’s other steps to come. Not every seller wanted to take on [a contract]. That affected some of these talks.”
On moving a first for a pure rental: “I’m open to it.”
On Dylan Holloway: “I talked to him the day after (his injury). He said he went into the corner, got hit, didn’t think, went to the bench. He’s got a shoulder injury, I would say four-to-six weeks.”
On Patrik Puistola: “We talked to Matti (Virmanen) yesterday, our Finnish scout who lives in Finland. I think today was more about getting $3-million in cap space. We’ll have Matti watch him. Don gave me a list of people, ultimately we picked (Puistola).”
On the market and salary retention, holland said most teams are willing to eat money on pending ufa’s, but not so much so on guys with two or three years left on their deals.
On if he has room to acquire a forward and a defenceman: “We’ll see. It all depends what they add up to.”

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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