Jesse Puljujarvi is back in the fold for the Edmonton Oilers and the early buzz says things are going well.
The forward is at training camp with the Oilers for the first time in some time, hoping to put a difficult past in the rearview mirror. Puljujarvi asked for a trade out of Edmonton after the 2018-2019 season and went back to Finland to skate with Oulun Kärpät in Liiga. The Oilers held on to his NHL rights.
In October of 2020, Puljujarvi signed a two-year contract with Edmonton and stayed with Kärpät until the commencement of camp.
Now, Puljujarvi is skating with a new number – the illustrious 13 – and seems primed to go once more.
“He’s coming to a fresh start with a new number,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said. “I think it’s a good thing for him. He’s a different person than he was before here, from everything that I hear, so he might as well start with a new number. I got no issue with it at all.”
Puljujarvi joins such Oilers luminaries as Todd Harvey, Andrew Cogliano, Ken Linseman, and Jason Garrison to wear number 13.
The hope is that the 22-year-old will be at last ready to make a long run at it in the NHL. His English skills are improving and relationships with his teammates are trending in the right direction.
“There’s not any problems. It’s been really fun. I give some jokes and they ask me many questions. There’s a good feeling,” Puljujarvi said.
The notion of Puljujarvi returning to town as a new man is intriguing and only time will tell how that bears out, but it is nice to see him smiling and enjoying the game again.
Things ended badly for Puljujarvi and the Oilers in their previous go-around, with the forward gaining a reputation as not being quite NHL-ready enough for Ken Hitchcock’s system. The trade request poured gasoline on the fire, but a new coach and a new approach could put him right where he needs to be.
And if that’s the case, the Oilers and their fans could be treated to some of the high-level hockey fans in Finland are used to.