Kingerski: Penguins, Make the Puljujarvi Trade Happen
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Kingerski: Penguins, Make the Puljujarvi Trade Happen

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Jesse puljujarvi edmonton oilers
EDMONTON, AB - SEPTEMBER 13: Jesse Puljujarvi of the Edmonton Oilers poses for his official headshot for the 2018-2019 season on September 13, 2018 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Oh sure, it’s easy to say or to write what should happen. If only the world were that simple. The Edmonton Oilers and new GM Ken Holland are prepared to play hardball with Jesse Puljujarvi. Edmonton has set a high-bar to trade their former fourth overall draft pick as if the organization hasn’t already squandered and dealt more top-five picks in the past decade than most teams have ever received. Puljujarvi is an RFA and Edmonton wants him back, but he doesn’t want to come back. And here should enter the Pittsburgh Penguins.

After film studies of the Penguins newest additions Brandon Tanev and Alex Galchenyuk, and a tip from a source that the Penguins are leaning towards Galchenyuk on the top line RW beside Sidney Crosby, it is easy to conclude the Penguins are short of one scoring RW to fill out their top-nine.

Puljujavi, 21, and his agent Mark Lehto spoke to Finnish media this week. Puljujarvi said he wants a chance to show what he can do. The big 6-foot-4, 223-pound winger has game-breaking talent and can play physical, even if he hasn’t unleashed his full talent skill set in the NHL, yet. Last season, Puljujarvi shuffled between Edmonton and Bakersfield of the AHL as then-Edmonton head coach Ken Hitchcock sent hard messages to the young Finn. In 46 NHL games, Puljuarvi slumped to just nine points (4g, 5a).

He felt abandoned in Edmonton, and things spiraled. Do not most comeback stories begin with a team making the player feel welcome, wanted, and restoring confidence?

Importantly for a team like the Penguins, who are as perennially tight to the salary cap ceiling like a helium balloon, Lehto told Finnish TV, “Puljujärvi is and has been convinced that he needs a change. He is an NHL player. This is about getting an opportunity for a new start. The salary can be almost anything.”

Note the last sentence. An agent said the salary could be almost anything. Sold!

When news of Puljujarvi’s trade demands broke earlier this summer, an NHL source told PHN the Penguins made contact with Edmonton but did not like the price, believed to be Bryan Rust. The PHN+ film review of Tanev did not bolster opinions or hopes that Tanev could fill the top-six Roles which Rust variably filled. So, it would be difficult for the Penguins to send Rust to Edmonton. That may be the right call.

RedBeard's Pittsburgh

But it also seems crazy to think Edmonton will let Puljujarvi play in Europe and receive nothing in return. Surely, the Penguins have another asset or two which could temp Holland. Perhaps a prospect. The Penguins have a few legitimate prospects, and they have some talented forwards with 40-point potential such as Dominik Simon and Dominik Kahun.

I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.

The Penguins also need to clear a few million to sign RFA defenseman Marcus Pettersson to a multi-year deal. And shed more salary for the future contracts of Matt Murray, Jared McCann and more, next summer.

Holland must realize that Puljujarvi feels burned by Edmonton. A new coach, new GM and all of the hope might not be able to fix that.

If the Penguins must, then even Rust should be on the table. In a hard situation, there must be hard choices made. Teams are about 20 days away from the start of training camp. Rosters should be settled, by now. Trading Rust won’t be a one-for-one deal with Edmonton if the Penguins sign Pettersson as a result. The Penguins have speed. Physicality. Depth. Strikingly, the thing which the Penguins lack is offensive pop.

Puljujarvi could be that player. He also adds those other traits, too. Every possible effort should be made to keep Rust in the Penguins fold because every team needs a player who can fill-in on every line, score 40 points, forecheck and play a fast, responsible game. But, the Penguins could also afford to gamble away that skillset, too.

If that gamble pays off, the Penguins have a 21-year-old star or at least a young winger who can score. If the Penguins lose the bet, at very least they found the money to sign Pettersson.

The summer is almost over. It’s time to make the Puljujarvi trade happen, one way or another.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now owner, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

26 Comments

26 Comments

  1. Brian

    August 21, 2019 at 8:02 am

    Agree 100%. Adding speed size and potential top 6 skill at an affordable price for a piece that they have a couple clones of on the roster should not be too difficult of a decision

  2. Herman

    August 21, 2019 at 8:25 am

    Unrealistic

    Oilers cannot fit Rust and remain under the Salary Cap.

    Based on what you’ve seen of Galcheyuk, the only deal that would make sense is if you can get Holland to take Galchenyuk for Puljujarvi and Chiasson. That would only leave Pens about $2.75M to get Jesse and MP signed (barring any WB moved detailed in previous postings).

    I could live with that for 2019-20.

    Unfortunately, the fan base would go into a frenzy if Rutherford moves the Kessel center piece for Chiasson & a yet to prove NHL top six winger.

  3. John

    August 21, 2019 at 8:26 am

    I agree Brian and Dan. It’s like adding a Top 10 pick talent at little cost. PGH will have to be creative because they usually draft in the 20’s or have no 1st pick at all through trades. My guess Oilers would want a package of Rust and a young defenseman in return. Not much has worked for the Oilers despite all the high draft picks. I think GMJR makes a move for the kid. He has Staal size and some O game. Unique talent who should blossom under this coaching and skill talent.

  4. JC

    August 21, 2019 at 9:34 am

    OMG! There is no way they trade Rust, who is a proven clutch playoff performer, for a guy that has “potential.” I don’t know why I even visit this site anymore. It’s like a site of wild, unimaginable Penguins fantasies. LOL

    • Terrence

      August 23, 2019 at 12:24 pm

      im with you jc ,what makes anybody think that he’s a top 6 player i smell bust ,Edmonton has been primarily an offensive team so why hasnt he been able to fit in ,cause most likely he’s a big time bust I’ll pass

  5. jopensfan

    August 21, 2019 at 10:16 am

    Yeah let’s trade Rust for a kid who had 9 points IN ALMOST 50 GAMES??. I don t get how after losing Kessel, anyone would want to lose another player of Rusted caliber and expierence. Especially a PROVEN player who’s can score goals in big games . I can see a prospect and a pick . Put not a proven player. Rust is far more valuable then he gets credit for and far more important of a piece on this team then trading him for an unproven player who’s done nothing.I get there s a chance this kid can be good but there’s a chance he can be bad and I wouldn t want to lose Rust to find out.

  6. Howie

    August 21, 2019 at 10:17 am

    He’s coming off surgery on both hips. He’s been high maintenance. He’s been a bust so far. He couldn’t figure it out under a Cup winning coach. He’s rumored to not “fit in” the locker room/ get along w/ McD. What are the chances he fits better w/ Crosby? who might be the only player in the world more intense than McD. What are the chances he figures it out under OUR Cup winning coach??? Not good.

    The Pens should run away from any deal for him that doesn’t have a sweetener.

    • Dan Kingerski

      August 21, 2019 at 10:35 am

      I think you’ve made a few big leaps, such as giving Hitchcock a bit too much credit and the “rumors” of a rift with McDavid are more message board fodder than reality. It would certainly be a gamble to acquire Puljujarvi, but for the reasons laid out above, the loss would be mitigated by the additional benefits ($$ for Pettersson).

  7. Freddy B

    August 21, 2019 at 10:33 am

    Edmontonian here. You guys aren’t reading edmontons perspective on this kid right. As it stands right now, puljujarvi is worthless. He has hands of solid granite, can’t use his size, and is absolutely clueless out there when it comes to basic hockey sense. HOF local writer Jim Matheson (well, either him or Terry Jones said this) has been probably the most accurate in his assessment – million dollar talent with a ten cent head. If Hitch couldn’t make it work with this kid I don’t think much will. Personally I think he’s another Yakupov and everyone here is dying to know why Columbus passed on him – with a Finnish gm the suspicion is he knew he was soft or predicted he would be. Him and laine are a few months apart in age but in maturity level they are not even in the same league.

    The Oilers would rather let him play in Europe for the next year to let him regain some value – he’s barely worth a bag of pucks right now – and then trade him for something this time next year, and they retain his rights which is why they gave him a qualifying offer in June before the deadline. Holland won’t move him unless he can get something, has said this in the press consistently, as he knows he’d be giving him away for nothing.

    Just think: if there is a player who can barely make it with the Oilers, I cant imagine how anyone there would think he’d offer anything to you guys. And this isn’t any Justin Schultz type situation either, that kid could always play, oilers had insanely unrealistic expectations of him which is why it failed (the Craig mactavish / Kevin Lowe reign of error is gone forever thank God, let mact destroy a khl team this time, plz n thanks) Jesse, everytime he takes the ice, its like “what does anyone see in this kid?” He does absolutely nothing out there.

    Trade won’t happen until at least this time next year unless Holland pulls off a deal like he did with Calgary and lucic….God getting rid of that fathead was like taking a thousand pound weight off our shoulders. If he can sucker someone into overpaying then sure but I don’t see it happening.

  8. Frank

    August 21, 2019 at 11:17 am

    I have to admit adding him to the team is interesting. BUT . . . I cannot see how he is viewed as anything short of a total dice roll. For every positive aspect he has a negative that takes plenty of air out of his sails. It would take a hard swallow to move Rust (who is most definitely NOT a dice roll) for a player that maybe nothing more than another Beau Bennett. And I cannot help but wonder why at least a couple of the other 28 teams have not made a hard run at adding him if he is “all that.”
    Maybe Simon and JJ? Although Sully is so taken with Simon it may cause him emotional distress. All things considered I would simply let Edmonton watch him play in Europe for a while and then see if their “demand” for this nine point scoring machine needs to be re-tooled.

  9. Keith Thomas

    August 21, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    It is inevitable that the Pens will need to move a solid player. The question is what player draws attention and interest from other teams. Some have seen some down side to trading Rust but the fact is he has been rumored to be one of the players moved. Some of you need to get over the JJ issue and move on. I also see the challenge with the cap issues in EDM. So here is a possibility. Rust & Simon for Puljujarvi & Chiasson. It may well work for both teams as far as the cap is concerned and it would also provide some relief to resign Pettersson. The Pens may have to move one additional player to make it work. But it is worth considering all options. It is not a perfect world with all trades but sometimes you need to roll the dice to see if some of these “unknowns” will prove themselves this season. Adding Puljiarvi would be just one added opportunity to see who “wants it.”

  10. Hatrick Pornqvist

    August 21, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    It’s a tough situation where the reality is that we absolutely have to move someone to clear space. I still think that with the abundance of wingers that it’s a guy like Rust, who we all like, who is the inevitable answer. The reality is that whoever we get back isn’t going to be any kind of difference maker anyways. It’s gonna be a $1M ish salary if we are going to clear the cap space needed for Pettersson. So with that being said, I’d rather take the chance that a guy like Puljujarvi finds his game here than go out and get a plugger. It’s a low risk, potentially high reward move. From that end it seems worth it. Might as well get something with decent potential in return.

  11. Matt uuda

    August 22, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    The Oilers could use a veteran d-man so they can break the Benning kid in slowly. They also need a goalie of the future. I say Johnson and Jarry for Puljujarvi and a second-rounder. Then use the salary difference to sign Petterson and slide Riikola into Johnson’s spot. Bingo!

  12. Vittorio

    August 22, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    No to Jesse Puljujarvi. The dude can’t play a lick of hockey and any pens writer who says otherwise should get there head out of there a**. Jesse stinks as a winger and more than likely will go back to Europe and not comeback. End of Discussion

    • Dan Kingerski

      August 23, 2019 at 7:12 am

      Vittoriio, thanks for reading and commenting. This place isn’t the blogosphere or message board where insults fly. We enforce a reasoned take or comment policy, even from inside our a**.

      • Vittorio

        August 24, 2019 at 3:50 pm

        I get that Dan but in what world or universe makes you think Jesse Puljujarvi would thrive here in Pittsburgh when he couldn’t do it in Edmonton? I don’t want to hear how the Oilers messed this up cause guess what thats an excuse not a reason as to why Jesse couldn’t cut it with the Oilers. Simon and Kahun have a way better chance of having better season with the Pens than Jesse ever could.

  13. Matt Luda

    August 22, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    Jarry and Johnson for Puljujarvi and a second-rounder. #JustDoIt

  14. Paul Katz

    August 23, 2019 at 11:48 am

    “…..and they have some talented forwards with 40-point potential such as Dominik Simon…”

    In what Universe can a statement like that be made?? Simon has other than using some cryptic metrics never proven he even deserves to be in the NHL let alone 40 point potential.

    Earth to Dan,come in.

    Simon must have pictures,… he is treated like a little league dads son playing shortstop.

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