Jesse Puljujarvi Trade Winds Are Blowing

The trade winds in Montreal have reached such a level that even my sparse follicles can feel their tastes. I can’t recall a time when so many highly productive players could be changing teams in one off-season.

Johnny Gaudreau (115 points), JT Miller (99), Nazem Kadri (87), Filip Forsberg (84), Vladimir Tarasenko (82), Alex DeBrincat (78) points, Evander Kane (22 goals and 39 points in 43 games) could all be in a new city next season. Kevin Fiala (85 points) was already moved.

That would be eight of the league’s top 35 point-getters or goal scorers. It would be unheralded. Gaudreau, Kane, Forsberg and Kadri are pending UFAs, so them moving teams with one week before free agency starts isn’t a major surprise at this point, but Miller, Tarasenko and DeBrincat along with some other productive players could be on the move according to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli. Throw in Evgeni Malkin (pending UFA) and Blake Wheeler as well.

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And then there are D-men like Kris Letang, Torey Krug, Jakob Chychrun, Jeff Petry, Tony DeAngelo and more. The list of names being mentioned is long and could lead to a very interesting week leading up to the July 13th start of free agency.

Jesse Puljujarvi’s name is still out there and I’ve heard more rumblings. He will not be traded only for draft picks. Multiple sources have told me that and Ken Holland said it on record. It would be a backwards move for the organization to trade him for a 2022 draft pick that won’t help the Oilers for at least three years.

Holland is looking for a player of similar ability. Not the same type of player, but one who still has room to grow. Three teams I’ve heard expressing interest are Carolina, Detroit, and Nashville. I’ve heard there are more, but haven’t been able to confirm so I won’t guess.

A quick scan of the Hurricanes roster and no names jump out who are similar. Martin Necas is an RFA, but right now Edmonton would have to add more to make that deal happen, I think. In the past two seasons, Puljujarvi has 61 points in 120 games, while Necas has 81 in 131 games. He’s been more productive and didn’t play with Connor McDavid. I’m not sure if there is a fit for a trade. And Necas could command $3.5m in arbitration, maybe higher.

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Detroit is an organization Holland knows well. Would Michael Rasmussen make sense for Edmonton? He was the ninth pick in 2017 and has taken some time to find his game. He did score 15 goals and 27 points last season. He wasn’t as productive, points-wise, as Puljujarvi, but he has room to grow and can play at center or on the wing. He’s also huge at 6’6″ and 210 pounds. The Oilers need some skilled size. Rasmussen’s basic analytics aren’t great but part of that is due to his zone starts and whom he played against.

He had 135 Ozone starts, 250 in the neutral zone and 199 in the D-zone. Courtesy of PuckIQ.com, he also played slightly more minutes against elite players than he did middle-six or fourth-line players.

Rasmussen was very dominant in the WHL with Tri-Cities. He didn’t produce huge point totals, but he did have 63 goals and 114 points in 97 games as a 17 and 18 year old. I view him as an ideal “late bloomer.” He has a $1.8m cap hit for the next two seasons.

Yakov Trenin scored 17 goals and 24 points on Nashville’s third line. Maybe he can become a low-end second line player, but he’s a solid third line player who also averaged 1:40/game on the PK. He’s big and tough and one year older than Puljujarvi — a different style of player, as he has more of a physical element to his game. I sense the Preds are really high on him though.

Looking at their roster, the only other player I see would be Luke Kunin. He was the 15th pick in Puljujarvi’s 2016 draft. To date he has similar career numbers as Puljujarvi. Kunin has 46-47-93 in 251 games, while Puljujarvi has 46-52-98 in 259 games. Very similar, but in Puljuarvi’s last two seasons Puljujarvi has outscored him 61 points to 41 and both have played 120 games. Kunin didn’t have a good year possession-wiseso that is a bit of a concern.

I doubt Carolina trades Necas for Puljujarvi, and I don’t think Edmonton would do the Kunin deal, but I see merit in Rasmussen for Puljujarvi. Two high draft picks who have had 15-goal seasons, are big bodies, with room to improve.

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Holland won’t move Puljujarvi straight up for draft picks, so a deal doesn’t have to occur by the end of round seven, but with every passing day it seems more inevitable he will be traded this summer. There is risk in trading him, as he just turned 24 and has shown signs he could be a solid top-six complementary winger. There are some concerns about his puck skills and his balance/edge work, but most players have pros and cons to their games.

Holland needs to get a solid player in return. Pulujarvi has had more of a positive than negative impact in games. Holland is aware of this, which is why he won’t give him away. I only looked at potential forward returns. Of course he could be moved for a defender, but I sense Edmonton will want a forward. They might lose also lose Evander Kane in free agency, so getting a forward for Puljujarvi makes the most sense from an organizational stand point.

As mentioned I’m unsure of other teams that have had discussions with Holland, so there will be other offers, but looking at rosters those are some names I saw as the type of player Edmonton would like.

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