As Jesse Puljujärvi dreams of a fresh start in the NHL, the Finnish star is already envisioning what it could do for his game.
The disgruntled Oilers winger is apparently willing to take his talents to Europe if Edmonton can’t facilitate a trade, but playing in the NHL reportedly remains his priority.
If Edmonton can swing a trade this summer, Puljujärvi hopes he can revive his career with a decent role on a new team.
“I want a team where I get a place in one of the first two lines and where I get to play for 15 minutes per game,” Puljujärvi said, via Google Translate, in an interview with Finnish publication Sporten. “Then I could show what I'm going for. That is my main goal.”
Puljujärvi's agent, Mark Lehto, recently told Finland's MTV Sports that a trade this summer remains a possibility, but the potential return for a former No. 4 overall pick that satisfies the Oilers is proving to be tricky.
Lehto’s client is a restricted free agent and like many of the league’s RFAs, Puljujärvi is without a contract with the summer rapidly coming to a close. But Lehto maintains that Puljujärvi’s trade demand has nothing to do with salary negotiations.
"This is not a bluff attempt," Lehto shared with Finland's Helsingin Sanomat. "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."
Following a rough season in which Puljujärvi scored just four goals and nine points in 46 games, the 21-year-old underwent surgery on both of his hips in March. The third-year winger has 17 goals and 37 points in 139 NHL games.
Making matters worse for the young Finn are the front office changes in Edmonton — Ken Holland was named the new GM while Dave Tippett takes over behind the bench. These moves have apparently done little to convince Puljujärvi that he can thrive with the Oilers.
“Although the Oilers have a new well-respected GM and a new coach, the team is still pretty much the same," Lehto shared in July, as translated by the Edmonton Journal. "Sometimes a player and a team are not a fit. This seems to be the case here. Nothing radical about it.”
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