When the Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland was asked about Jesse Puljujarvi’s future with the team, he was less than gung ho about it. He was quite noncommittal.
Specifically, when Holland was asked by the media whether Puljujarvi would be part of the Oilers’ plans, Holland responded that he wasn’t sure. His exact words were, “I told Jesse I would call his agent next week or 10 days … he’s a restricted free agent and I obviously want to talk to the coaches.”
Holland added. “I’ll talk to Woody (Jay Woodcroft) and make a decision.”
What to Think of That Less Than Enthusiastic Response?
The question is, after that less-than-encouraging response, what’s Puljujarvi’s status with the team? It isn’t as if he’s a sack of pucks. He scored 14 goals and added 22 assists (for 36 points) in 65 games in 2021-22. That isn’t a total one can dismiss easily.
However, the truth is that Puljujarvi’s scoring slowed down as the season progressed. He only scored 13 points during his final 37 games; and, he barely showed up in the postseason, scoring only three points in 16 games.
What Would It Cost to Keep Puljujarvi?
This offseason, to keep the big winger from Finland, the Oilers would have to present Puljujarvi with a qualifying offer of $1.4 million. Otherwise, they’d lose his exclusive negotiating rights.
On the face of it, It would seem that the Oilers would at least tender that offer. Then, if Oilers’ head coach Jay Woodcroft didn’t see Puljujarvi as part of the roster going forward, the organization would try to trade him. Or, the Oilers might try to re-sign him to a short-term contract.
Puljujarvi Has All the Tools, But …
At 24-years-old and after six years with the team, it seems that Puljujarvi is at a crossroads. The Oilers chose him in the first round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, ahead of both Matthew Tkachuk and Mikael Sergachev.
The question remains if the Oilers still see him as a top-six winger who gives them solid offense; or, do they see him as a third-line forward who needs to earn his way into the lineup by killing penalties? And, if they see him as a bottom-six player, how much is he worth in salary?
As the Edmonton Sun reports, Puljujarvi’s in a group of young players like Ryan McLeod, Evan Bouchard, Kailer Yamamoto, and Dylan Holloway who need to earn their way into roster positions. Can Puljujarvi do that?
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