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Canadiens Trade Talk

If Jesse Puljujärvi Hits NHL Trade Market, Canadiens Should Inquire



NHL Trade

If Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland decides to put Oilers restricted free agent winger Jesse Puljujärvi on the NHL trade market this offseason, Montreal Canadiens general manager Kent Hughes should at least give Holland a call to inquire.

In their end of the season press conferences Wednesday, after being swept in the Western Conference Final by the Colorado Avalanche, Oilers general manager Ken Holland and interim head coach Jay Woodcroft gave completey different vibes on what the Puljujärvi’s future with the Oilers holds. It would be easy to come away from Holland’s observations on the 24-year-old, 6-foot-4, 201-pound winger thinking he will put some feelers out on the NHL trade market.

“He played really well the first quarter of the season, then it was a real struggle for him,” Holland said of Puljujärvi. “I think he lost his confidence, then when he lost his confidence he was in the top six, worked his way down to the bottom six. He’s not really young, but he’s relatively young. I got to sort out Jesse.”

A reporter then asked Holland if he thinks Puljujärvi is part of the solution for the Oilers going forward?

“That’s what I’ve got to sort out. I talked to him yesterday, I don’t want to divulge, but I talked to him for a good half an hour and I told him I would talk to his agent,” the Oilers GM replied.

Woodcroft on the other hand seems to think that Puljujärvi is part of the solution and the young core the Oilers are trying to implement onto the roster.

“He’s a young hockey player,” Woodcroft said Wednesday. “I think for him, he is not dissimilar than Ryan McLeodEvan BouchardStuart SkinnerDylan Holloway, some of our young guys. That’s where the growth is going to come from and they got really good experience in our playoff run to aid that growth. We have a strong belief in the next wave of young players coming through our organization, and Jesse is one of them.”

Puljujärvi is coming off what he and the team were hoping would be a two-year bridge to a long-term contract if he took his game to another level over the duration of the deal. The contract carried a $1.1 million salary cap hit. Puljujärvi needs to receive a qualifying offer of $1.4 million or above by June 11 or he will become an unrestricted free agent.

Puljujärvi had 14 goals and 22 assists in 65 regular season games this season and then added two goals and one assist in 16 playoff games during the Oilers’ run to the Western Conference Final. So did that poor playoff performance seal his fate with the Oilers and make him a target for teams looking to get a bargain on the NHL trade market for a young, big winger who was drafted fourth overall at the 2016, and who could still blossom?

Longtime Edmonton Oilers reporter and columnist gave his take here on the Jesse Puljujärvi situation and if the Oilers will try and move him on the NHL Trade market?

‘Edmonton isn’t in a position to trade him for a draft pick. That will make them worse. By trading him you aren’t clearing out significant cap space, so it’s not a salary dump. If the Oilers are considering trading him, then it has to be for a player in a similar situation. A player with potential, who has shown he can be rather effective, but has yet to find consistency. The NHL has many players in similar situations, but to make the trade the Oilers need to be certain the player they receive can match Puljujarvi’s production. If he betters it, great, but they don’t have enough organizational depth to just give up on a 24-year-old winger with 259 NHL games of experience.

He just turned 24 in May. He was incorrectly rushed to the NHL and I believe that hampered his development and hurt his confidence. The season in Finland helped, and he was a much more effective player when he returned. I understand it is frustrating when he mishandles a puck, but he also makes many good plays that aren’t on the highlights or easily noticeable. He’s good at knocking down pucks and creating turnovers. He’s good in the two-foot zone inside his own blue line, in the sense he more often than not gets the puck out.

Edmonton needs players on value contracts, and at $1.1m last season he was on a value contract. Suggestions the Oilers should sign him to an extension for $4m isn’t realistic, or wise. He hasn’t produced enough to earn that contract. A short-term deal around $2m is what he likely will get, and there is a very good chance he’d not only live up to that contract but exceed it.’

If Gregor is wrong and we were reading the tea leaves correctly, then Hughes could to see if one or two of the plethora of draft picks he has can entice Holland to send Puljujärvi to the Montreal Canadiens via the NHL trade market. If Gregor’s wrong, and Holland wants a NHL player in a similar situation back, then the feel here is Holland may ask for Canadiens centre Ryan Poehling. Would Hughes do that?

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Totally. I thought they should have gone after him when he went through that rough time. MSL could restart his career.

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