Despite signing a one-year, $3-million contract in July with the Edmonton Oilers, Jesse Puljujarvi was the topic of trade speculation throughout the off-season. With training camps underway and the coming season on the horizon, media gossip persists suggesting the 24-year-old winger could be on the move.
Cap Friendly shows the Oilers sitting over the $82.5-million salary cap by $6.78 million with restricted free agent forward Ryan McLeod still to sign. They're allowed to sit above the cap by 10 percent during the off-season.
With Oscar Klefbom and Mike Smith expected to spend 2022-23 on long-term injury reserve, they can exceed the cap to start the season by $6.36 million. However, they still must shed salary to re-sign McLeod and become cap compliant when their schedule opens next month.
On Sept. 12, TSN's Ryan Rishaug reported the Oilers were continuing to explore their options to trade Puljujarvi. A week later, Sportsnet's Mark Spector wondered if general manager Ken Holland would move Puljujarvi if winger Jake Virtanen makes the club on his professional tryout offer and agrees to a league-minimum salary.
Appearing on the “Oilers Now” podcast on Tuesday, Daily Faceoff's Frank Seravalli said he wouldn't close the door on a Puljujarvi trade before the regular season begins.
Spector pointed out that the Oilers can't trade Puljujarvi for anything of value. They also lack sufficient depth at right wing to make a deal for a draft pick.
The problem, however, is Puljujarvi's $3-million salary. While not expensive, it's difficult to move at a time when most NHL clubs lack sufficient cap room. There are currently 12 teams (including the Oilers) sitting above the cap with another 11 clubs carrying less than $3 million in projected cap space.