We talked a little this past season about Edmonton Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi and how things were going, let’s say, poorly between the player and the team.
Now it looks like things have come to a head, with Puljujarvi’s agent Markus Lehto confirming that his client will not play in Edmonton this coming season.
“If he doesn’t get traded,” Lehto said, “he will play in Europe next year. He will not play in Edmonton.”
The Oilers have until Monday to table a qualifying offer to Puljujarvi, who’s coming out of an entry level contract. That deal was inked in July of 2016, but things haven’t worked out between the 21-year-old and the Oilers in those three years.
And now things are lining up for a possible fresh start for the Swedish-born forward.
As Lehto stated, Puljujarvi will effectively turn down any qualifying offer received from the Oilers and will have to be traded. If he’s a contracted NHLer, he obviously can’t play in Europe but the barn door will be wide open in short order.
With the 2019 NHL Entry Draft coming up, it’s possible that the Oilers will try to get something for Puljujarvi. He hasn’t exactly been a showcase hockey player thanks to his lacklustre tenure with Edmonton, but some teams may be apt to find a spot for his potential.
Failing that, Lehto says that there’s interest in the KHL for his client and he could always suit up for Jokerit.
With intentions clear, it’s now up to the Oilers and new general manager Ken Holland to do what’s best for the home team.
“At the end of the day, if you can do a deal that makes sense for the Edmonton Oilers, you do it,” said Holland. “If you can’t, you go over (to Europe) and watch him play, and hopefully he scores a lot of goals over there.”
Puljujarvi, drafted fourth overall in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, has not flourished in Edmonton’s system. There’s been some argument about his being fast-tracked to the big leagues before he was ready and there is the sense that he was shouldering too much responsibility on a struggling team, but that’s all water under the bridge now. The past is the past and Puljujarvi is moving on.
Puljujarvi’s 2018-2019 season ended with hip surgery in early March, but he’s expected to be fully recovered in time for the 2019-2020 season. Where he ends up remains to be seen, but he’ll have every chance to test that market in short order.
(Lead photo credit: NHL.com)