NHL Notebook: All eyes on Jakob Chychrun, Jesse Puljujarvi speaks to Finnish media about struggles, and more

Photo credit:Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Lewis
1 year ago
The Arizona Coyotes coming to town generally isn’t something that people bother to circle on their calendar but their game in Edmonton tonight will give Oilers fans their first in-person view of defenceman Jakob Chychrun since his return from injury.
The 24-year-old defender has been in the trade rumour mill for well over a year now and it’s no secret that he’d like to be traded from the desert to a contending team. The obstacle in the way of that happening is Chychrun’s health, as his 2021-22 season came to an end in March and he didn’t make his 2022-23 debut until late November after undergoing wrist and ankle surgeries over the summer.
While Chychrun boasts tremendous skill and a very attractive contract, teams unsurprisingly weren’t going to be willing to meet Arizona’s high trade demands without seeing how he performs upon his return from those surgeries.
So far, so good for Chychrun, as he has three goals and six points through his first seven games of the season. He’s logging 22:25 per game playing on the Coyotes’ top pairing and he has a 6-to-3 goal differential and 65-to-59 shot differential over his 123 minutes at even strength, according to Natural Stat Trick.
There’s no doubt that the Oilers need help on their blueline. The team’s play in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill has left a lot to be desired and the team’s lack of even-strength offence can also partially be blamed on the blueline’s inability to effectively move the puck up the ice.
It’s difficult to say if Chychrun is the answer to Edmonton’s woes but there isn’t another player out there on the trade market right now with his talent and manageable contract. The idea of the Oilers going out and getting Erik Karlsson got everyone excited on Tuesday night but fitting his mammoth contract underneath seems almost inconceivable. Adding Chychrun, who makes $4.6 million annually for two more seasons after this one, is significantly easier to manage.
The question is whether Ken Holland is interested in pulling the trigger.
“I still think there is apprehension among clubs with the most interest to pay the price that Bill Armstrong and the Coyotes are looking for,” TSN’s Darren Dreger said on Insider Trading. “But I also think there is a group of teams that are getting to the point they realize they may have to.”
Since taking the helm back in 2019, Holland has avoided making a huge splash on the trade market, instead opting to hang on to his first-round draft picks and prospects. That might change this year as there’s a growing sense of desperation around the Oilers, who sit at 14-12-0 on the season and don’t look very close to the team who reached the Western Conference Final back in the spring.
A good performance from Chychrun tonight in Edmonton will add fuel to the fire that he’s the answer for the Oilers. But the Oilers aren’t the only team out there with a need on their blueline, and the price that the Coyotes will be able to demand goes up with every good performance that Chychrun strings together.

Jesse Puljujarvi speaks to Finnish media…

Jesse Puljujarvi spoke to Tommi Seppala of Yle, Finland’s national broadcaster, on Tuesday evening about the difficulties he’s been having in Edmonton this season…
It goes without saying that the situation is difficult and frustrating for Puljujarvi. At the same time, Puljujärvi is in the media almost every day in the media of the city, which is passionate about hockey – and not in a positive way. Puljujarvi assures that he does not take the media’s criticism personally, but at the same time, the final breaking of the tendon is beginning to be heard from the speech.
The pain stems from the fact that Puljujarvi doesn’t seem to know what to do to solve the situation right now. Six years ago, the winger, who was reserved for the NHL specifically as a player of the scoring unit, still thirsts to be a scorer, but still plays more like a third-line checker.
“Now I’ve started to throw hits,” Puljujarvi said. “I have the most hits of anybody on the team, which is also something positive.”
“Of course, I still want that role of play-maker. That’s the kind of player I want to be, but now it seems that I’m not cut out for that role in the NHL. Maybe it’s in another league,” Puljujarvi whips himself.
On Wednesday, Mark Spector of Sportsnet asked Puljujarvi to offer further comment to the interview but he politely declined. Spector also spoke with Oilers general manager Ken Holland about Puljujarvi’s interview…
“It’s a hard league. That’s one of the reasons why I leave young players in the American League as long as possible,” began Holland, when presented with Puljujarvi’s quotes on Wednesday morning. “This is not a development league. This is a league where you’re judged on what you do, and not on potential. So when I hear a player like Jesse saying that he’s lost his confidence, it’s not the first time I’ve heard that.
“And I don’t really have a solution,” Holland concluded. “That’s my response: It’s a hard league.”
Neither party would speak of what is becoming obvious here, that a fresh start with a new team would be best for the player.
Puljujarvi has just one goal and six points through 26 games this season. He’s slated to play on the team’s third line on Wednesday against the Coyotes along with rookies Dylan Holloway and James Hamblin.

Other news and notes…

  • Seattle Kraken Rookie Shane Wright scored his first goal in the NHL last night and it came against the Montreal Canadiens, the team that opted not to select him at No. 1 overall in the 2022 draft. The Kraken outshot the Habs 33 to 16 but lost the game by a score of 4-2.
  • Another player will be joining Canada’s camp ahead of this year’s World Juniors as the Los Angeles Kings have opted to loan Brandt Clarke to the team for the tournament. The No. 8 overall pick from the 2021 draft has played nine games with the Kings this season and five games with their AHL affiliate.
  • The Colorado Avalanche are expecting to be without Nathan MacKinnon for roughly four weeks because of an upper-body injury. MacKinnon joined Gabriel Landeskog, Valeri Nichushkin, Josh Manson, and Bowen Byram, and a few other Avs who are already on the Injured Reserve.

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