We are in what seems like day one million into the offseason. All of Edmonton’s free agents have been signed, save for Ryan McLeod. The Oilers are a pinch above the cap ceiling, which they’ll have to have in order before getting the season kicked off, and there’s at least one more deal incoming for this to happen.
Both Jesse Puljujärvi and Kailer Yamamoto were signed to contracts recently. This avoids arbitration for both players, which is good for everyone. Both Yamamoto and Puljujärvi will likely push for the top slot on the right wing position this year. There’s been a fair bit of talk about possibly moving Puljujärvi for a replacement player, and we’ve gone into some good detail in recent months as to why that’s probably a terrible idea for the Oilers. There’s a very good argument for Puljujärvi to be the top right wing on this club going forward, at least a very good top six forward. He’s continuing to put in the work this offseason, and he’s continuing to say the things that leave no doubt he wants to be an integral part of the Oilers going forward.
Nothing’s changed for Jesse Puljujärvi, at least not since his return to the Oilers in 2019. He appeared in the Finnish publication Ilta-Sanomat yesterday and left no doubt as to what his intentions are going forward. He’s going to do everything he can to be the best in Edmonton. When camp opens, he’ll be there working hard. Puljujärvi says he’ll be giving everything he’s got to be the best player possible. That’s nothing new for Puljujärvi; he wants to excel and work for the role. Puljujärvi’s never demanded a certain role through his agent, or created tension through unruly demands. Believe the player when he says he’ll put 110% of the effort in to become the best player for the Oilers as he can.
This idea flies in the face of some folks who are hell-bent on creating a narrative for a player that doesn’t exactly fit into their pre-conceived notion of what a fourth overall selection should be, but people are wrong everyday about many things, this included. Add to the fact that Puljujärvi is one of exactly two right wings signed to the club with Kailer Yamamoto, and it’s clear to see that making a trade with this player is likely a fool’s errand.
The Oilers will need to make some cap space available in order to sign Ryan McLeod. If that were an easy task, I assume that Ken Holland would have made it happen already. Because it hasn’t yet happened, Holland might have to pack a sweetener along with a player to get a deal done. This deal should not include Jesse Puljujärvi’s name, as the player Edmonton receives back is almost surely worth less than what Puljujärvi’s value is. And, if this is the year that JP’s finishing gets in tune, look out.