now that Jesse Puljujarvi is signed, Edmonton Oilers general manager Ken Holland should have an easier time trading him. Holland and head coach Jay Woodcroft may be on different pages in this regard, but ultimately they want what’s best for the team.
The Netherlands has highlighted that Puljujarvi played very well during the first quarter of last season and lost his confidence after that. He fell out of the lineup, and Holland was and may still be trying to fix things. Whether that means he gets traded or Holland lets things play out for another season remains to be seen, but Woodcroft is confident Puljujarvi is one of the young pieces worth investing in.
Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens are looking to get some players out and bring in pieces for the future. They have reportedly shown an interest in Puljujarvi and have been doing their due diligence since before the 2022 NHL Draft (from “Murphy: With Puljujärvi Signed, Canadiens Should Circle Back”, montreal hockey now, July 26, 2022). The Oilers forward still appears to be in the trade market as teams try to puzzle out their rosters this offseason, including the Canadiens and Oilers. Here’s a look at what the Habs could offer for Puljujarvi and what could happen if the Oilers decide to hang on to him.
Player, prospect or pick for Puljujarvi?
The Oilers will have several players vying for fourth-row duties. With Puljujarvi expected to play in the back row, the team will want a better player to fill that void rather than a marginal NHL player. The Canadiens are trying to lower salary and would have to move players to make money. Could they trade recently acquired kirby dach? He’s not an established NHL center yet and he struggled as much as Puljujarvi did overall. Dach already got his change of scenery from the Chicago Blackhawks, but he’s still a restricted free agent. Having a player like Puljujarvi, who is already signed, could be attractive to teams like Montreal that want to know how much cap space they are dealing with.
It would be more beneficial for the Oilers to get a player who could help them next season. A selection does nothing to them next season And it only helps if they trust some of their prospects, like Dylan Holloway, Xavier Bourgault and Raphael Lavoie, to take the next step. As a contending team, the Oilers want players who outgrow their contracts, but right now it’s hard to know what the future holds as these prospects have little to no NHL experience. Puljujarvi could also underperform on his one-year deal.
The most ideal return in a Puljujarvi trade would be a player who would be in the mix next season and help the team, either by saving money, adding more points, or simply costing less for the same production in the third/fourth row. . There’s a more intriguing return below that the Oilers could be eyeing if a deal is struck.
Canadians defensive prospects
The Oilers’ forward group won’t be missing without Puljujarvi, but they’ll need more NHL-ready young defenders in the near future. the Canadians have an abundance of young defenders. The Oilers should be interested in Justin Barron (RD), Jordan Harris (RD), Mattias Norlinder (RD), Logan Mailloux (RD) and Jayden Struble (RD). All are top picks in the draft or have developed well in their young careers. Harris and Barron are expected to get the Canadiens out of training camp, while Norlinder played six games last season and is close. Mailloux and Struble may be a couple of years away, while Kaiden Guhle probably isn’t on the market.
The Oilers’ defensive prospects are the weakest part of their system. If they manage to get a prospect from the Canadiens, it might not help the defense next season, but it could in the future and give the team more options.
Oilers Trade or Keep Puljujarvi
There may be a tension between Puljujarvi and the team that cannot be repaired. He has requested a trade twice, but he, too, is getting the best opportunity with the Oilers. He was playing alongside Connor McDavid for periods even before last season. Puljujarvi is in his own head and he needs to regain confidence. He is a talented player, but a player who is not producing is not going to play in the top six. That role is consistently earned and proven.
We know that Woodcroft has confidence in Puljujarvi, but he doesn’t call the shots when it comes to trading players. The coach has to give the best of himself with the squad that he has given him. If Puljujarvi stays, it will be his job to help him regain confidence.
If there’s no off-season trade, don’t rule out a deadline or mid-season deal if things continue to go south. The Oilers are going all out next season, and Puljujarvi could be the piece that helps them land an impactful player to fill a need. He will need a big season to secure a longer-term deal and for the Oilers to see as part of his future.
Rob Couch is a freelance writer for THW who primarily covers the Edmonton Oilers and Philadelphia Flyers. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats Newstrade negotiations and daily betting guides.
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