The Pittsburgh Penguins made a little news splash Sunday morning when they signed former fourth-overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi to a free-agent tryout. He had double hip surgery in the offseason and has been rehabbing toward an NHL return.
Puljujarvi, 25, was the Edmonton Oilers top pick in 2016 but struggled to hold his place in the lineup. He spent 2019-20 and part of the following season in the Finish Elite League.
After a few years of friction and trade requests with Edmonton, they traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes near the 2023 NHL trade deadline. He played 17 games for Carolina but had only two assists. He had one assist in seven playoff games.
In 58 games with Edmonton last season, he had 14 points (5-9-14) and was a minus-11. He’ll be a reclamation project if his tryout goes well. In 334 NHL games, the formerly touted prospect has only 114 points, including 51 goals.
Puljujarvi skated with the team at practice Sunday.
The 6-foot-4, 201-pound forward is a right-handed shot who plays on the right wing, which might be an area of need for the Penguins as both Rickard Rakell and Bryan Rust are out of the lineup with injuries. Rakell is on LTIR, while Rust is still being evaluated.
Rakell skated before practice.
The Penguins also recalled P.O Joseph from his conditioning assignment from the WBS Penguins.
Update: The Penguins further clarified the difference between a PTO and a free-agent tryout. Puljujarvi can participate in all team activities except games. All of his expenses will be covered for 10 days, but there is no timeline on when either side must make a decision. However, the player covers all expenses after 10 days.
Puljujarvi arrived in Pittsburgh on Saturday for testing. Sunday was his first day participating with the team.