Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi entered July ranked fifth among Daily Faceoff's top-five off-season trade targets. Avoiding arbitration by signing a one-year, $3-million contract on July 26 did little to silence the speculation.
Since being selected fourth overall by the Oilers in the 2016 draft, Puljujarvi has struggled to play up to expectations. The 24-year-old winger had a career-best 36 points in 65 games last season but consistency remained an issue.
TSN 1260's Dustin Nielson suggested Puljujarvi's new contract could make him easier to trade if that's still part of the Oilers' plan. So far, general manager Ken Holland hasn't tipped his hand as to his intentions.
Following the Oilers' re-signing of Kailer Yamamoto on Wednesday, the Edmonton Journal's David Staples reported they're above the $82.5-million salary cap by $6.8 million. They're expected to put sidelined players Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith on long-term injury reserve for the coming season. However, they'll still be over the cap by $423K with restricted free agent Ryan McLeod still to sign.
Staples believes Puljujarvi and Warren Foegele could be the Oilers' top-two cost-cutting trade candidates. Prior to the Yamamoto signing, The Athletic's Allan Mitchell suggested moving out Puljujarvi and replacing him with a more affordable right wing such as free agent Phil Kessel.
Mitchell acknowledged that would be a risky move given Puljujarvi's youth, shooting percentage and two-way play. However, he noted Holland has added a veteran in every off-season since becoming Oilers GM.