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The Carolina Hurricanes acquired forward Jesse Puljujarvi from the Edmonton Oilers today, in exchange for prospect Patrik Puistola.
Puljujarvi has been with the Oilers since he was selected fourth overall by the team in 2016, aside form a stint back in Finland. His development hasn’t necessarily gone according to plan since being drafted, however. This season, Puljujarvi has managed just five goals and 14 points in 58 games, an 82-game pace of seven goals and 20 points. The 24-year-old’s contract carries a $3 million cap hit and he’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.
In return, Patrik Puistola will be heading to Edmonton. Puistola was selected by the Hurricanes in the third round of the 2019 NHL Draft and at 22 years old, he does have some potential. The forward has posted strong numbers in Finland’s top league this season, scoring 15 goals and 38 points in 56 games.
It’s a pretty interesting trade for the Hurricanes. On the surface, Puljujarvi doesn’t really fill an area of need and is in the midst of a down year. Moving his contract seems like more of a cap dump than anything for the Oilers.
At the same time, we know that Puljujarvi does have upside and given his age, it’s still possible a change of scenery could make a difference. He’s had success with Sebastian Aho before, when the duo lit up the World Juniors on route to a Gold Medal. With three other notable Finnish forwards on the team and Antti Raanta in the crease as well, there’s at least that connection.
Given Puljujarvi's only under contract for the year, there’s no risk with the move, either. If things don’t work out, the team’s under no obligation to re-sign him this summer. If Puljujarvi does end up playing well, the Hurricanes will have acquired a productive forward for a B-level prospect. I’m still not sure where Puljujarvi will fit in the lineup and I don’t know how likely it is that the deal will be a success, but I’ve learned before that criticizing Don Waddell’s moves often leave one looking foolish later on.
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