Jesse Puljujarvi is back in the NHL.
Sunday, the Pittsburgh Penguins completed his journey by signing the 25-year-old winger to a two-year deal with an average annual value of $800,000. Puljujarvi had double hip resurfacing surgery last summer after stumbling through an ineffective 2022-23 NHL season. He signed an NHL free agent tryout deal with the Penguins in December but joined just one practice before working with the team and trainers in an off-ice capacity.
The Penguins’ AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, signed Puljujarvi to a professional tryout contract (PTO) in early January. AHL PTO’s can last up to 25 games.
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Puljujarvi is 6-foot-4 and 201 pounds but sometimes plays more of a perimeter game. With WBS, he had nine points, scoring four goals in 13 games. He was also a plus-8 with eight penalty minutes.
The Swedish-born winger played his junior hockey and first professional hockey in Finland’s junior and elite league. The Edmonton Oilers drafted him fourth overall in 2016.
However, Puljujarvi’s best season was 2021-22, when he scored 14 goals and amassed 36 points in 65 games. Edmonton traded Puljujarvi to the Carolina Hurricanes before the 2023 NHL trade deadline, but he registered only two assists in 17 games.
The Pittsburgh Penguins appear to have a right-wing opening on the third line with Lars Eller. Rookie Valtteri Puustinen has cooled after a hot start, ending a 10-game scoreless drought with an assist against the Montreal Canadiens in the Penguins final game before the bye week and All-Star break.