Photo credit:© Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Edmonton Oilers Player Review and 2023-24 Preview: Jesse Puljujarvi
By Cam Lewis6 months ago
Welcome to the 2022-23 Edmonton Oilers player review and 2023-24 season preview.
In this series, we’ll be doing a player-by-player look at the seasons that each Oiler had last year and their outlook heading into next year. Today, we have Jesse Puljujarvi.
The Puljujarvi era in Edmonton was a rollercoaster ride.
It was a surprise when the highly-touted Finn landed in the Oilers’ lap with the No. 4 overall pick in the 2016 draft because he was widely considered to be the third-best prospect in the class after Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine.
Puljujarvi scored his first NHL goal in his first game as an 18-year-old but struggled to adapt to the North American game and ultimately wound up requesting a trade following the end of his entry-level contract. General manager Ken Holland didn’t oblige and Puljujarvi spent the 2019-20 season playing professionally in Finland.
He came back to the Oilers on a two-year contract and showed a lot of promise but fell down the team’s depth chart as he wasn’t able to consistently produce offensively. Puljujarvi had 10 goals and 23 points in the first 28 games of the 2021-22 season, missed two weeks in COVID-19 protocol in December, and then scored just 15 points over the final 37 games of the season. During the team’s playoff run in the spring, Puljujarvi scored three points in 16 games and logged an average of 10:05 per night.
The Oilers and Puljujarvi avoided arbitration last summer with a one-year, $3 million contract. He saw some time in Edmonton’s top-six forward group but was generally leaned upon as a third-line winger who could use his speed and body in a checking role.
By the time the trade deadline rolled around, Puljujarvi had only five goals and 14 points over 58 games and the Oilers decided it was time to move on. Puljujarvi was dealt to the Carolina Hurricanes as a salary cap dump in order to help open up the room needed to add Mattias Ekholm and Nick Bjugstad in subsequent trades.
The hope for Puljujarvi in Carolina was that joining a Finnish-heavy roster with Sebastian Aho, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, and Teuvo Teravainen would help him find his groove. He wound up recording just two assists for the Canes over 17 regular season games and one point in seven playoff games.
Jesse Puljujarvi’s Career To Date…
Puljujarvi underwent double hip surgery after Carolina was eliminated from the playoffs and the Hurricanes opted not to issue him a qualifying offer. This is the second major surgery for Puljujarvi as his 2018-19 season came to an end in February so that he could have a procedure done on his hip.
The big Finn is currently on the open market as an unrestricted free agent. There haven’t been any rumblings about Puljujarvi signing with a new team over the course of the summer and it appears that if his NHL career is going to continue, he’ll have to earn a roster spot in the fall on a professional tryout contract.
Now 25 years old, Puljujarvi has 51 goals and 114 points over 334 NHL games. He isn’t going to become the top-line, game-changing talent he was projected to be when he was drafted, but Puljujarvi can still carve out a career as a two-way forward. Returning home to be a star in Finland is a possibility as well.
Previously in this series…
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