The Jesse Puljujarvi era in Edmonton has mercifully reached its end.
The Oilers dealt away the 2016 fourth-overall selection on Tuesday afternoon in a one-for-one swap with the Carolina Hurricanes, receiving forward prospect Patrik Puistola in return.
Puljujarvi’s tenure with the Oilers couldn’t have been more turbulent. Long touted as one of the jewels of the 2016 draft class, Edmonton appeared huge winners on draft day after the Finnish phenom fell into their laps with the fourth pick.
After signing his entry-level deal shortly thereafter and making his NHL debut, however, the criticism quickly followed. Puljujarvi struggled to turn solid underlying numbers into actual box score results during his early years, a theme that persisted throughout his Oilers tenure.
His development was also hampered by an Oilers club led by then-GM Peter Chiarelli that struggled to turn potential into results, as the highly-touted youngster wound up in Bakersfield with the Oilers American Hockey League affiliate on multiple occasions throughout his entry-level deal.
Amidst a worsening relationship, a contract dispute, and trade demands at the conclusion of his rookie deal, the winger left Edmonton to take a sabbatical in his home country. Puljujarvi went on to dominate the Finnish Liiga during the 2019-20 season, finishing fourth league-wide in scoring at a younger age than those ahead of him.
During the following COVID-shortened season, the Finn eventually returned to the NHL, coming to terms on a two-year deal with the Oilers. At 22 years old, Puljujarvi continued to play up and down the lineup, ultimately ending up alongside Connor McDavid for an extended stretch. His scoring touch briefly emerged — alongside strong defensive metrics — the following year during a breakout 2021-22 campaign, as he tallied a career-high 36 points, but that was as good as things would get with the orange and blue.
After starting this past season with just one goal in twenty games, despite a reported seal of approval from his captain, Puljujarvi increasingly lost confidence. The winger eventually outright questioned his place in the NHL to Finnish media, signaling the clock was ticking on his time with the Oilers.
Following a stretch of sporadic healthy scratches, and a period of will-they-or-won’t-they waiver wire games that were saved by timely injuries, the Oilers finally pulled the trigger on dealing the polarizing forward.
Puljujarvi concludes his Oilers tenure having mustered 112 points in 317 NHL games, the second-lowest total of any forward drafted in the top 10 of the 2016 draft.
The Oilers, meanwhile, clear Puljujarvi's $3-million cap hit as GM Ken Holland works the phones to try and acquire an impact blueliner ahead of Friday's trade deadline.