Puljujarvi Wants Out of Edmonton
Prior to the 2019 NHL Draft, Jesse Puljujarvi's agent stated the 21-year-old right winger no longer wished to continue playing for the Edmonton Oilers. If they didn’t meet his trade request, Markus Lehto said his client, a restricted free agent, would play in Europe this fall.
Just over a month later, the Edmonton Journal's David Staples noted Lehto seemed to backpedal from those remarks during a mid-July interview with a Vancouver radio station. Staples suggested perhaps Puljujarvi would return to the Oilers after all.
Puljujarvi, however, doubled down on the trade request. On Aug. 2, Staples cited the winger telling a Finnish newspaper he wanted to play in North America but not with the Oilers. He reiterated he'll stay in Finland until he signed a new contract.
Staples doubts Puljujarvi's stance will put additional pressure on Oilers GM Ken Holland to swing a trade. While Holland would move Puljujarvi if he could receive a good return, Staples considers it “increasingly unlikely” as most teams already locked in their rosters for the coming season.
Since being selected fourth overall in the 2016 NHL Draft, Puljujarvi struggled to play up to expectations. His NHL development was poorly handled by the previous Oilers management. However, he also bears his fair share of blame. Staples’ colleague Kurt Leavins cited Puljujarvi's unwillingness to adjust his style frustrated former Oilers coaches Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock.
Puljujarvi still has offensive potential but his trade stock is low right now. Since the Oilers own his NHL rights, Holland could let the youngster stay in Finland this season to work on regaining his confidence and scoring touch.
Could The Flames Shop Frolik?
The Calgary Flames last week made a cost-cutting move by buying out defenseman Michael Stone. Despite that move, their eventual re-signings of restricted free agent wingers Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane could force them to ship out right winger Michael Frolik before the season opens on Oct. 2.
Cap Friendly indicates the Flames have over $7.7 million in cap space. The AAV on Tkachuk's next contract is expected to exceed that figure. Last Tuesday, The Athletic's Kent Wilson suggested shopping the 31-year-old Frolik to address that issue.
Frolik is in the final season of his five-year contract. The cap hit is $4.3 million, but he'll earn $3 million in actual salary this season. Wilson believes he could attract interest as the number of quality wingers in the UFA market dwindles.
Since completing his fourth straight 30-plus point campaign in 2016-17, Frolik's production has declined. Still, he has value as a third-line winger with a decent scoring touch.
Wilson acknowledged Frolik's 10-team no-trade list could complicate things. Nevertheless, he suggested the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, and Columbus Blue Jackets as potential destinations.
The Devils' recent acquisition of Nikita Gusev could make them lukewarm toward Frolik. The Senators became this summer's dumping ground for clubs looking to shed salary, taking on the contracts of Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, and Nikita Zaitsev. They could use some experienced depth on the wing but could squeeze the Flames for a sweetener. Same goes for the Flyers and Jackets.
Flames defensemen T.J. Brodie and Travis Hamonic also surfaced as trade options. Wilson believes the Stone buyout makes it unlikely either blueliner will be moved.
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