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Puljujarvi Watch: Orange

Incoming Puljujarvi likely imminent.

Minnesota Wild v Edmonton Oilers

Puljujarvi Watch™ has been raised a notch to Level Orange. There’s only one notch higher than orange, and that’s Level Copper if and when he signs a deal.

Bob Stauffer confirms that it’s lookin’ mighty fine for the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft to make his way back to Alberta’s Capital City. The fact is, and the fact remains that the Oilers don’t have a bunch of cap space to splash around free agency, and this could be a very nice reunion for both Puljujarvi and the Edmonton Oilers if it all works out.

The Oilers need good, young, inexpensive players to come in and help score goals. This could be Jesse Puljujarvi.

The Oilers did well on the power play this year (they ranked 1st overall), but were relegated to just 16th in goals scoring while at 5 on 5. The team doesn’t have a lot of realistic options for the top six. Bringing in Puljujarvi to try and fill that hole may sound a bit presumptuous, but when you’ve got a little more than $10MM to find a scoring winger, sign Ethan Bear, Matt Benning and bring in a backup goaltender, your cards have already been played.

Add the fact that Ken Holland has already said that he’s not wild about buying anyone out, and you begin to see the lines in the sand.

So let’s take a quick look at what’s going on the right side for the Oilers, yeah?

  • Kailer Yamamoto is currently the best option at right wing. There will probably be significant times where Yamamoto is hooked up to Leon Draisaitl next season, they paired well together in 2019-20.
  • Zack Kassian looked really good up top for bits and pieces, but he fell off as time progressed. Kassian played well enough for the Oilers to offer him a four year deal at 3.2MM a year, which is quite a bit rich and quite a bit long.
  • Josh Archibald had a cup of coffee up top, he’d probably be my go-to if nothing else changed. He’s in for one more year at 1.5MM
  • Alex Chiasson? Tried that, limited engagement. Another year at 2.15MM.
  • Adam Cracknell? Ok, I kid.

The point is that it’s a new day. Gone are the memories of Puljujarvi’s ELC where he spent a total of 50 games in the AHL, or the times he would play 5:47 on the fourth line with Drake Caggiula. Two hip surgeries and a little more than a season over in Liiga, and Puljujarvi looks like his old self prior to his initial “devleopment”.

Puljujarvi will be a reasonable cost for a year. At just five months older than Kailer Yamamoto, the Oilers not only owe it to Jesse but they owe it to themselves to see if he can make it work. Worst case scenario? It doesn’t work, and we all move on.

But, what if it does work? Imagine Puljujarvi’s game having grown after spending an entire season in Liiga, a season that saw him finish 4th in the league in scoring. Is he going to score 80 points in the NHL? Maybe not, but maybe he can bang in 20 goals alongside Connor McDavid.

For the Oilers to improve 5 on 5 next year (and ultimately, in the standings), it almost has to work.