Allan Mitchell (Lowetide) writes in a recent column that he’s hearing whispers in the wind that the Edmonton Oilers understand they may have to choose between signing forward Evander Kane to a long-term extension or Jesse Puljujarvi, but not both. And, if push comes to shove, Mitchell believes that the Oilers will prioritize a long-term deal for the veteran over the youngster.

Related: What Is All the Fuss Over Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi?

Mitchell wasn’t the only one who approached that subject this week. There’s a lot of chatter surrounding the Oilers, especially when it comes to how little Puljujarvi has been potting goals of late. Appreciated for all the other things he does on the ice (and he does a lot very effectively), the question about how much that matters when you don’t score has been discussed ad nauseam. Some believe Puljujarvi isn’t effective if he isn’t scoring. Others believe he doesn’t have to score to be effective. Much of how a fan might view him as a player depends on how they view the game as a whole.

For fans who love analytics and underlying numbers, Puljujarvi is a prospect that has incredible potential and upside. For fans who look at the scoreboard, his name is nowhere to be found. Those who like him think he needs to be playing in the top six because he makes others better. Those who don’t like that he’s struggling feel he should be moved off the top line. Unfortunately for Holland, the decision may be bigger than that when the season ends.

Puljujarvi Kane Oilers

Mitchell writes that the GM will have to address all areas of weakness on the Oilers roster and that comes with challenges. He writes:

A summer devoted to finding a goalie, shoring up defence and signing RFA’s Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto and Ryan McLeod. I don’t know that you’ll get it, but grow your own worked for Ken Holland in Detroit and it can work here. Chasing free agency can work, but money will be too tight to mention this summer.

He adds, “I sense, based on what is being rolled out by the connected media, this summer will see some painful and unnecessary departures.” His belief is that the Oilers will likely have to choose between Kane and Puljujarvi, and right now, Kane is more important in the eyes of Oilers’ management.

This is a Huge Risk For the Oilers

There is no doubt that Kane has been an ideal fit since coming to the Oilers. He’s meshed well with the top stars and he’s been one of the team’s most effective forwards. Taking nothing away from what he’s been able to do in a short window, re-signing him is not a slum-dunk decision. He’s 31 years old and power forwards tend to see their game regress around this age. So too, he’s had some off-ice issues and whether the reputation is deserved or not, there is something to the idea that a long-term deal will make him comfortable and that might not be the recipe for success.

Not only that but what if Puljujarvi is the real deal and he simply hasn’t put it all together yet? Are the Oilers potentially selling low on a player who could be a huge part of the team moving forward to keep someone that might only be effective for one or two more seasons? What if Puljujarvi figures it out quickly? How bad would the Oilers look if they simply gave him away to make room on their books for Kane?

If the Oilers are really thinking Kane is the guy they want to keep, at least give Puljujarvi a bridge deal. If he explodes offensively, the Oilers can cross that bridge when they come it.

Next: Flyers Looking at Two Free Agent Centers This Offseason, One Via Trade

The post Oilers Rumored to Be Prioritizing Long-Term Deal for Kane Over Puljujarvi appeared first on NHL Trade Talk.

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