Getting to know Patrik Puistola, the prospect coming back in exchange for Jesse Puljujarvi
By Cam Lewis9 months ago
As we wave goodbye to one Finn, we welcome another.
The Jesse Puljujarvi era in Edmonton came to an end on Tuesday, as the Oilers traded the former No. 4 overall pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for prospect Patrik Puistola.
Puistola was selected by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2019 draft following a season that was split between three levels in Finland. Puistola’s results in 2018-19 in Finland’s U20 league and Mestis, essentially their version of the AHL, were very strong, but his 16-game cup of coffee playing for Tappara resulted in just one point.
As a result, Puistola was a very divisive prospect coming into the draft. His tantalizing skill with the puck and his ability to score in those lower levels suggested a prospect with major upside, but his mediocre skating and poor defensive play also indicated a player who might not be able to hack it against top competition. Scouting services were all over the grid when it came to Puistola, as he ranged from a late first-round talent to a mid-round flyer.
Tappara assistant coach Janne Gronval told Scott Wheeler of The Athletic in August of 2019 that he believed Puistola should have been selected higher than No. 73 overall, noting that physical maturation over time would improve his game…
“He has tools. But I think he didn’t take that big step last season that everybody thought he should take,” Gronvall said. “I think he has a good future coming. It will take a couple more years though. I see good hockey sense and a smart player. He has to improve his skating a little, but I think that’s coming when he gets more strength and power in his body.”
It appears Gronval’s assessment was correct, as Puistola has developed into a very effective player in Finland’s top league. Puistola is second on Jukurit this season with 15 goals and he leads the team with 38 points. Puistola’s 38 points is also good for 21st in Liiga in scoring and is second among players under the age of 22.
What the Oilers have in Puistola is a highly-skilled player who projects as a useful middle-six forward who can generate offence and score goals. Whether or not Puistola’s game will translate to North America is a whole other question but he’s found his groove in Finland’s top league and is making good on the potential that ultimately had him viewed by many as a top talent before he was drafted.
Patrik Puistola Scouting Report, Statistics, and Highlights…
Position: Right Wing / Left Wing
Date of Birth: January 11, 2001
Drafted: 2019, No. 73 overall (CAR)
Height: 6’0″ / 183 cm
Weight: 174 lbs / 79 kg
“Puistola is the primary play driver for Jukurit, a mid-pack offensive team. He was more of a one-trick pony in his early days, focusing more on shooting and perhaps leaving a lot to be desired defensively. But he’s using his teammates more than he used to and his numbers have improved significantly as a result. I see some middle-six potential there – someone who can score, but also get himself and others into a scoring position.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff“Puistola’s biggest weaknesses are on the defensive side of things, but his compete level is pretty good and his smarts should allow him to turn into a more complete player in the future. I’m pretty high on Puistola due to his great hands, offensive instincts and shot, and could see him getting drafted early in the second round.” – Lassi Alanen, Finn Prospects“Puistola started [the 2018-19] season in the top junior league in Finland but soon it became evident he was ready for the next level. He’s played some games at the Liiga level and has scored his first point there as well but Tappara has a stacked team, so Puistola’s minutes have been very limited there. Because of that, he’s been playing mostly in the Mestis lately, and he’s been tearing it up much more than expected. His season is one of the best that league has ever seen from someone his age. Puistola has also been a top player for Finland at the U18 level in various tournaments, and he’s expected to play a major role for them at the U18 Worlds.” – Jokke Nevalainen, Dobber Prospects
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