February 16, 2019 | 12:44am ET
PULJUJARVI’S AGENT SUGGESTS CHANGE MAY BE NEEDED
Jesse Puljujarvi, right wing
The Edmonton Oilers may not trade right wing Jesse Puljujarvi by the Feb. 25 trade deadline, but it appears the 20-year-old’s tenure with the Oilers may not have much gas left in the tank.
In an interview with Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, Puljujarvi’s agent, Marko Lehto, admitted his client’s ice time, or lack thereof, is “a little bit of an issue” and suggested a change of scenery might be best for both parties.
“Of course we would like to see him play 15, 16 minutes every game. Getting some power-play time,” Lehto told Sportsnet midway through Friday night’s 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. “A lot of the other forwards are getting their ice time, getting into a rhythm. Feeling like they’re in the game.”
The Oilers have been exploring the trade market and have made Puljujarvi available, but it’s unclear as to what type of move the team is trying to make. He made his debut on TFP’s Top 30 Trade Watch List late-Friday and currently sits at No.21.
It’s believed the Oilers are hoping to package Puljujarvi in order to bring an impact player with term on his contract back to Edmonton, though such a move may not occur until the off-season around the NHL Draft in late-June.
If a move isn’t completed by the deadline, the Oilers could opt to send Puljujarvi back down to their AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
“It’s kind of hard for me to think you can hit the reset button,” Lehto said. “Going to the American League... Jesse was already there. There was a great plan, then things changed.”
Lehto also admitted to there being a certain lack of trust between the organization and the player.
“I think it’s hard to reset,” he said. “It’s like, when the player isn’t trusting anymore... ‘Do these guys really want me here? Do they really trust me to become a top-six guy? A top-nine guy? An offensive player?’ The player is uncertain.
“Are we reaching the point that for the team and for the player, it might be actually beneficial for going different paths, different routes?”
Puljujarvi, drafted fourth-overall by the Oilers in the 2016 NHL Draft, has registered four goals and five assists for nine points in 45 games with the Oilers so far this season, while averaging 12 minutes of ice time per game.