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Jesse Puljujarvi to Edmonton—Even When We Lose the Lottery, We Win the Lottery

The Edmonton Oilers had no reason to hope they'd get one of, by far, the three best players in the draft. And they did.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

I'm going to give it to you straight, honest reader. I didn't have one ready for Jesse Puljujarvi. I haven't even mastered spelling "Puljujarvi." Life is short and brain cells are finite, why waste time thinking about Jesse Puljujarvi? We may as well prepare for the Oilers drafting the moon.

Everybody knew that the top three draft picks had been set, probably in order, for all of 2016. Auston Matthews, then Patrik Laine, then Jesse Puljujarvi. Seldom, perhaps never, has the top three been less controversial. This was so obvious that when the Oilers landed in the black hole of fourth overall I got drunk from grief. You'd have to be a moron, an blithering human trash bag, with flaps flailing in the wind and old egg shells launching out of your mouth, to let Jesse Puljujarvi slip to fourth overall.

But we reckoned without LUMBUS; hapless, hopeless LUMBUS. You know, they were named the "Blue Jackets" because they wanted to imitate the sea-coloured management staff of the Oilers, picking random second-rate aggressive-penalties-are-harder-to-kill players for no obvious reason and regretting it forever. Even so, when the rumours today ran that Columbus didn't like Puljujarvi, that they'd take another, obviously markedly inferior option, we scoffed. If you trusted rumours the Oilers were about to swap some spare parts for P.K. Subban. Rumours are nonsense. Not even the Columbus Blue Jackets, no, not even them, would be so mad. John Davidson has definitely seen a hockey game before. He's been on television!

I mean, Puljujarvi is 6'3", solidly-built, has the sort of shot that felled Russians by the score in the '40s, combined with his buddy Laine to turn the World Juniors into their own private practice rink, was sixth on his SM-liiga team in scoring, is younger than Matthews, is younger than Matthew Tkachuk, is even a month younger than Laine. He skates well. He can make plays. He's an honest-to-God right wing, the only forward position the Oilers could use a young hand at, rather than a winger who some GM thinks can be a centre. You'd have to be a blithering lunatic to let Puljujarvi fall to Edmonton...

...and then that's what Columbus did. Even when we lose the draft lottery, we win the draft lottery.

Did you know Puljujarvi has more SM-liiga points in his career than Laine? It's true. Until this year he was, statistically, a good stride ahead of the higher-touted Finn. Puljujarvi's playoff was at least as good as Laine's, although Laine went deeper. In the post-season he had a better points-per-game against adults in Finland than Pierre-Luc Dubois did against teenagers in Quebec. Laine really passed Puljujarvi based on his unbelievable international play, but there's a reason why Laine-versus-Puljujarvi was, until last December, an argument.

Puljujarvi is good. He is tough to play against. He has wingspan and a motor and any cliché you like. He would be a worthy top-three pick in any year, and he went number four. Prospects may be the only area in which we have any luck but seeing this kid on the right, with Taylor Hall on the left and Connor McDavid in the middle, has the potential to redeem a lot of suffering.

This is not a phrase that can often be used in Oil Country, but we should be deliriously happy right now.