Could the longest-running standoff in the NHL be reaching a conclusion? Last month, Jesse Puljujarvi spoke about his desire to return to North America and that his representation had been speaking with the Edmonton Oilers, the team who Puljujarvi refused to sign with last off-season and who he once stated he would never play for again. It was an encouraging note on what has been a frustrating situation for all involved. Yet, just a week later Puljujarvi re-signed with Karpat in the Finnish Liga and once again it seemed a reunion between the Oilers and their 2016 No. 4 overall pick may never happen.
Not so fast, says Sportsnet’s Mark Spector. Spector heard whispers that the sides were still talking and decided to do some digging. After speaking with both Edmonton and Puljujarvi’s agent, Spector believes that Puljujarvi will be back with the Oilers for the 2020-21 season. He believes the contract with Karpat, which has an NHL out clause, was to safeguard against a delayed start or worse for the NHL season, but that the two sides should come together for a new contract prior to the start of training camp, allowing Puljujarvi to simply use his deal with Karpat to get a head start on the season by playing in the Liiga.
Why the change? Spector believes that in addition to Puljujarvi’s desire to return to the NHL, he is also an ideal option for the cap-strapped Oilers to bolster their forward corps. Puljujarvi’s NHL production has not impressed thus far in his young career, but his numbers in Europe both before and after his first stint with the Oilers imply otherwise. With size and speed to go with his offensive upside, perhaps Puljujarvi can make a greater impact this time around and at a bargain rate. Spector expects that Edmonton will try to re-sign their former top prospect at a salary close to $1MM, which would likely mean just a one-year deal, but could make him an incredible value if he plays up to his potential.