Admin note: This was written on 11/14, but then news broke that Puljujarvi was going to stay overseas. Now news broke yesterday that a trade nearly happened. The trade fell through because the Oilers were asking for too much. The deadline to trade him and have him play this year is today. I’ve changed around some wording of the post, but if some of it is outdated, it’s because it was written two weeks ago.
The Rangers were interested in Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi, and they have been for quite some time. The 2016 4th overall pick has requested a trade, and needs to be signed by December 1 in order to play in the NHL this season. He’s currently playing in Finland. If a trade is going to happen, it will go down with enough time for the acquiring team to sign him before that date.
The Oilers are a tough team to gauge in trades, mostly because the new regime is hasn’t made any major trades for us to analyze. It is worth noting that the Oilers are currently in first place in the weak Pacific division and likely view themselves as in the playoff race. Given the timeframe needed to get this done, there are a few possibilities and matches with the Rangers.
The Euro Prospect Swap
There’s been a lot of chatter about a potential Puljujarvi/Lias Andersson swap, although nothing credible has been sourced yet. It’s all speculation based on the similarity of their situations, with Andersson seemingly unable to get off the fourth line. However Andersson has yet to request a trade.
Why this works: The Rangers clearly view Andersson below Filip Chytil and Brett Howden on the depth chart at center, yet won’t move him to wing. The Rangers are also thin at RW and could use the top-nine depth in Puljujarvi. The Oilers are pretty thin at center too.
Why this doesn’t work: Edmonton could be looking to upgrade immediately, and Andersson doesn’t necessarily help them in that regard. Being unable to unseat a clearly struggling Howden or Ryan Strome –of whom the Oilers have extensive knowledge– might not look good to the Oilers.
The Big Trade
At this point in time, all signs are pointing to Chris Kreider getting traded. The Oilers have absolutely no one at LW right now. This is a match made in heaven.
Why this works: The Oilers need the LW depth and, assuming we are reading the tea leaves properly, the Rangers are going to want the best possible offer for Kreider. Puljujarvi, as a former top-five pick, might be the best player they can get.
Why this doesn’t work: The Blueshirts don’t have to trade Kreider right now, and they may get a better deal than Puljujarvi at the deadline. The Oilers would also need to add to Puljujarvi, with the Rangers likely looking at the Kevin Hayes trade as a barometer. A first round pick is a must. Is Edmonton willing to do that?
The Ice Time Heist
Brett Howden is clearly getting more ice time than he should based on his on-ice performance, much like Neal Pionk last year. If the Rangers are showcasing Howden because they are throwing everyone a curveball with the Andersson situation, then Howden could be someone the Oilers, who need center help, could covet.
Why this works: Howden would slide into their 3C role behind Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, rounding out their center depth. Center depth wins, and the Oilers aren’t dumb enough to not know that. Plus Howden is already getting top-nine minutes with the Rangers.
Why this doesn’t work: Perhaps Edmonton got better scouting and is seeing what we see with Howden. Also he doesn’t have the pedigree that Lias has, at least in terms of draft stock.
The One We Don’t See Coming
Maybe Edmonton doesn’t want to take anyone back to their roster and just wants to take back draft picks? Or perhaps they want to upgrade their blue line and view top pairing Libor Hajek as an essential cog?
Why this works: Have we ever predicted a proper trade? Or trade cost? Or anything? NHL GMs are impossible to predict because we expect the best and get the worst.
Why this doesn’t work: You’d have to assume if they are replacing Puljujarvi, they want someone to upgrade their immediate playoff hopes, or at least get a comparable prospect back.
The Irony Trade
Strome for Puljujarvi, straight up. Not happening, but would make everyone laugh.