If and when the Edmonton Oilers trade Jesse Puljujarvi (seems more like when than if) there will be plenty of options for the winger who hasn’t quite reached his NHL potential. Teams may view Puljujarvi as a reclamation project, but a select few will also see him as a salary cap dump that has the potential to be a home run addition at an extremely low cost. In fact, some teams will see acquiring Puljujarvi as an opportunity to pick up a player and get a sweetener in the deal if the Oilers are stuck.
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NHL insider Frank Seravalli recently took a deep dive into what Puljujarvi is and isn’t and mentioned a number of trade candidates. He writes, “The Blackhawks, Sabres, Ducks, Coyotes, Canadiens and Blue Jackets are all among the teams that would readily take on Puljujarvi’s contract for the right asset in return from Edmonton.” This article will focus on three teams that might be interested in the player based simply on the fact they have room to add him.
Buffalo Sabres Have the Cap Flexibility to Be Wrong
There is always the potential Puljujarvi never realizes his potential in the NHL. He seems to be establishing himself on the Oilers roster in a different kind of role (one that doesn’t include scoring) but his ceiling as a No. 4 overall pick appears to have changed. Any team willing to add him needs to be comfortable with that.
The Sabres make sense here. They have more deadline cap space than any other team and they can afford to sign him to a new deal that includes two or three seasons just to keep his cap hit low. The Sabres just need to be aware of future contracts for some big-name talent coming into their own, so a lower AAV is wise. They can use the rest of this season to see if he’s got something worth considering. If he isn’t, they can choose not to qualify him and let him hit the free agent market.
Arizona Coyotes and Oilers Already Talking
Speculation is the Edmonton Oilers and Arizona Coyotes are already talking about a trade. Names that have been linked to Edmonton include Nick Bjugstad, Jakob Chychrun, and Shayne Gostisbehere. Obviously, the Oilers won’t and can’t add all of those players, but Puljujarvi would likely be included in any deal since the Oilers need to spend cap space the other way to make the money work.
The Coyotes have made it clear to teams that they are willing to take on contracts. If the market for Puljujarvi isn’t strong, Edmonton knows they can always dump him to the Coyotes in exchange for a sweetener or as part of a larger move.
Chicago Blackhawks Will Offer Opportunity
Another team that has made it clear they’re open to taking on contracts with salary is the Chicago Blackhawks. They are rebuilding and it’s only a matter of time before some marquee names start moving ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline. The Oilers and Blackhawks have worked with each other before and by the time GM Kyle Davidson is done wheeling and dealing, there might not be anyone left in Chicago.
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If Puljujarvi goes there, he’ll get the elevated role he’s wanted in Edmonton. The Blackhawks are a team who has a history of signing players to one-year deals — like they did with Max Domi and Andreas Athanasiou. Puljujarvi could get a similar offer and while he won’t have the stars to play with, but he’ll be given all the opportunity in the world to show what he is as a top-six forward. The Oilers might be able to leverage the fact that if the Blackhawks trade Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Athanasiou, Domi, Sam Lafferty and others, they’ll need to take on contracts. Edmonton can offload Puljujarvi with no sweetener at his full rate.
If Puljujarvi doesn’t produce in Chicago, that could be the beginning of the end of his time in the NHL.
Jim Parsons is a senior THW freelance writer, part-time journalist and audio/video host who lives, eats, sleeps and breathes NHL news and rumors, while also writing features on the Edmonton Oilers. He’s been a trusted source for five-plus years at The Hockey Writers, but more than that, he’s on a mission to keep readers up to date with the latest NHL rumors and trade talk. Jim is a daily must for readers who want to be “in the know.”