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Report: Jesse Puljujarvi Expected To Return To Oilers For 2020-21 Season

4th overall selection from 2016 NHL Draft expected to join Oilers in 2020-21

Minnesota Wild v Edmonton Oilers

Well, well, well.

Looks like Jesse Puljujarvi might be back in Oiler colours after all.

After a successful season with Liiga that saw Jesse Puljujarvi finish fourth in points, it looks more and more like Puljujarvi will join Edmonton for training camp in 2020-21. This flies in front of several terrible narratives we’ve heard for over a year, most notably the lies that are “he doesn’t want to be an Oiler”, or “he doesn’t want to play in Edmonton”.

Puljujarvi signed a one year deal with Liiga a little more than two weeks ago. The deal included an NHL out-clause, which will allow Puljujarvi to join the Oilers if he signs a deal. Puljujarvi could still be traded to another club, but Holland has had a year to work on that and it would stand to reason that if a deal were to be had, it probably would have occurred already.

If (and it’s looking pretty good) Puljujarvi joins the Oilers for the 2020-21 season, it’s a good thing. I can think of several reasons why, I’ll share three of them with you now.

I. There’s a good, young player in Jesse Puljujarvi.

I get tired of comparing his age to Kailer Yamamoto (who had a really good season for Edmonton last year), but it bears repeating until the keys fall off of my keyboard: Puljujarvi is only five months older than Yamamoto even though they were drafted a year apart. Puljujarvi spent the entire last season finding his game, and he’s earned a shot on the right side of a club that had Zack Kassian spend most of the time on the first line RW.

2. Puljujarvi is going to come at the right price.

With less than eleven million in cap space, the Oilers don’t have a bunch to spray around this offseason. That number will get precipitously smaller if they get serious about a goalie or a top six LW. Jesse Puljujarvi will likely come in at a nice price. If Ken Holland signs him for a million dollars and Tyler Ennis for a million dollars, there’s a real chance that the Oilers could have a top six with wheels on all sides of the vehicle. It’ll also free up whatever cap they have remaining on projects like The Ethan Bear Contract without forcing themselves into making a decision about James Neal’s contract right away.

3. It completely tosses aside every garbage narrative you’ve heard about Jesse Puljujarvi

Listening to what’s amounted to a lot of hot air about Jesse Puljujarvi’s conduct, or his heart, or his drive, or his ability to learn English, or passion, or whatever garbage story of the week has grown tiresome. Karpat named Puljujarvi an alternate captain on Wednesday, which surely doesn’t sound like something a club would do for a player who quits on a team. It also doesn’t sound like he’s a bad leader (seriously, who gets an A if there’s no leadership there), and based on everything that we’ve learned about this player, he’s grown in the time he’s been away from the Oilers. Never mind that during his first go-round with the club that he spent under 60 games in the AHL, or for the majority of his time in Edmonton he was strapped to an actual cinderblock on his line, or how he was scratched eight games into the season for Cooper Marody, or how his integrity was called into question when he needed double hip surgery (he was on an exercise bike just three weeks afterwards).

Worst case scenario? It doesn’t work in Edmonton. He’ll find work elsewhere.

Best case scenario? He’s an inexpensive 22-year-old winger that could fit on the top six of one of the most electrifying lines in hockey. Since he’s been in Finland, there’s a new GM, a new coach, and plenty of opportunity for a 22 year old with a fresh start ahead of him.

I know where I’ll place my bet.